Interview With A Winemaker – Pablo Avalos
17th March 2023
Wine isn’t just made, it’s crafted by the unwavering expertise of a Winemaker, sometimes old traditions are passed down by generations and on other occasions, new people venture into the industry, introducing us to new creations, this series of Winemaker Interviews will help you uncover the vast world and skills of how the artists passionate about wine make the world a bubbly place.
In this article we speak with Pablo Avalos, an amazing Winemaker from California, United States. Let’s discover a little about his time in the Wine Industry.
Tell Us About Yourself
“I’m a winemaker that has been working in the wine industry for over 26 years, and I started working in the cellar as a seasonal cellar worker, and with the combination of hard work, study and dedication I have had the opportunity to grow on my career holding positions as cellar supervisor, Cellar Master and Assistant winemaker before becoming the head winemaker at Gibson Wine Company which is my current employer. In order to reach my dream, I had to leave some really nice jobs and places where I live in order to keep moving up in the later. That has been really dramatic for my kids because they have had to leave behind, and their school friends every time we had to move, but in the end, they do understand that it has been for the well being of all of us.
For myself, I do love horse racing, and I try to go to the race track at any opportunity I have, and that helps me to cope with the stress that winemaking gives me during the week, so for me it is a really good way to refresh my mind.”
How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?
“I got involved in the wine industry at an early age when I was still living in Michoacan Mexico which is my place of birth. My Father and all my uncles were already working in the wine industry in California, and every year they were coming back home with a lot of wine from the place they worked which was Fetzer Vineyards. I remember that they gave us wine because it had a low alcohol content, and that is how we started getting a passion for wine and winemaking.
When I left my place of birth for California, I already had it really clear that my ultimate goal was to become a winemaker, and I started working in the vineyards where I learned how to cultivate the vineyards, from planting, pruning, disking, spraying, picking and everything in between. After that, I had an opportunity to work at Asti Winery and I took the opportunity which became an 11-year job working for them in the cellar and lab. During my years at Asti Winery, I had the opportunity to learn most of what I know because the Winemaker was really open and he could answer all my questions.”
As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Wine?
“The hardest obstacle as a winemaker has been working at places with not enough refrigeration to maintain the fermentations at the desired temperature. It is challenging working with such a big obstacle during the most critical part of winemaking. I had to move the chillers to the hottest tanks to try to keep them cold to try to preserve the aromatics of the wine. Also, one of my hardest challenges has been to convince the Vineyard owners to make some changes in the way they cultivate the Vineyards to be able to get a better-quality grape, so that way we can make a higher quality wine because their main focus is to produce volume.”
How Do You Determine When Your Wine Is Ready To Drink?
“I do determine when the wine is ready to drink, by making sensory evaluations of the new wines. Usually, the white wines are ready by early December of each year after harvest. At that time the flavors are already homogenized and the wines are ready for bottling if needed. On the red wines, I actually wait at least 3 months to find the flavors homogenized and mature to some extent, but I usually wait longer to release red wines because it takes longer to age them on oak and get their better version of them. For some of the higher quality wines, we age them on Oak Barrels for 18 months, and during that time I perform regular sensory evaluations to ensure that they are progressing as expected, and we bottle those wines when I find their best version on maturity, aromas and flavors.”
What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?
“The part of winemaking that I enjoy the most is the crush season. At that time is when the magic happens that all the juices become wine, and for me, that is an amazing process. I really enjoy monitoring the fermentations and performing daily sensory evaluations to ensure that they all are fermenting healthy. Despite that crush season is a demanding time and I have to work between 12 to 14 hours a day, I enjoy seeing the results of what I do at the end of the fermentation.”
Thank you Pablo, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!
Images belong to Pablo Avalos. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.