Behind every delicious bottle of wine is a dedicated and passionate winemaker. Meet Sergio Benavides, the master behind the wines at Acquaviva Winery.
Q: How did you get started in the wine industry?
A: I worked for a long time in the agricultural industry as an agricultural engineer. I was a money-making machine but my soul was empty. I realized my love was in wine and grapes. I worked in Chile around the vineyards but not in them, and I just wanted to be working in there.
I wanted to do something bigger in my life. Winemakers try to make you feel things through the wine they’re making. I knew that I wanted to be a winemaker. I then got my master’s degree in winemaking.
Q: What is one of the hardest things about winemaking year in and year out?
A: Honestly, the hardest part is finding people to work in the farm business. It’s getting harder each year to find people to work in the fields.
Q: What is one of the most rewarding things about your job?
A: I love when people are smiling and laughing while drinking our wine.
Q: How was your process coming back from Chile?
A: I grew up in Chile and began working in the agriculture industry. I moved to the US in 2003, but I went back to Chile to work in the wine business. I knew that I wanted to live in the United States, so I began the process of coming here. I just loved this country. I came back to the US in 2007 working for another winery, but when Acquaviva was starting up, I moved here and have never looked back.
Q: Do you have a favorite food and wine pairing?
A: I love pasta and a good merlot.
Q: How does winemaking in the winter work?
A: Plants go into a dormant stage. Vines need a certain amount of cold hours, actually, each year, so the winter months are important for the plants. The cold makes parts of the vine begin to produce other areas of the vine that were not producing as much last year.
For us, we work heavily in the barrels. We move the wine into the barrels and move wine out of the barrels into the tanks. We spend our winter months preparing the wine and finishing the fermentation of the new wine.
Q: What makes your wine unique?
A: That it is 100% local. We have nothing imported. When I began here, that was something really important to me. That we make 100% of our wine locally.
Q: Is there one person in the industry you really admire and/or has been a role model for you?
A: I admire regions of wine. I like seeing all of the different regions of wine, from California to Chile to Italy, and seeing how they all do it a little differently. I do have 6 or 7 mentors from when I first started that I really looked up to, but I always wanted to be my own person and create my own success. I loved learning about certain techniques that other people used and kind of adapting them to work for me.
Q: What is your favorite part of the winemaking process?
A: The fermentation process. I love when we add the yeast – it smells so unique and brings back so many memories. Ah. You are making wine.
Q: Any wine tips for those just getting started into winemaking or those interested in studying wine?
A: Most importantly, never give up. And “no wine is bad until it’s vinegar.”
Meet Sergio in person by scheduling a Wine Tasting and Tour at Acquaviva! Check availability here.