Steve Rasmussen’s winemaking career has spanned over two decades. He currently owns and operates SLO Bottling (a mobile bottling company), Westgate Cellars in Santa Maria, California and consults for a select few custom crush clients including Sierra Madre Vineyards. He also partnered with the band Foghat in 2007 to launch their new brand ‘Foghat Cellars’.
Rasmussen was introduced to winemaking quite literally during an “Introduction to Winemaking” class at UC Davis. He admittedly “was bitten by the bug,” and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Fermentation Science in 1981. After stints at Mondavi properties in Lodi and Oakville, he got his first enologist position in 1984 at Corbett Canyon in Arroyo Grande. “It introduced me to the Central Coast,” including some Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir during the 1985 harvest, “which opened my eyes to how good Pinot could be.” In 1986, Rasmussen became the winemaker for the esteemed Talley Vineyard label, where he remained until 2007, and where he experienced Sierra Madre Vineyard fruit via clients in the winery’s custom crush program. “It (the SMV fruit) was always sassier and spicier” than many of other Pinots, Rasmussen remembered.
Over the years, Rasmussen also collaborated in winemaking efforts in the Paso Robles area and worked five harvests in Argentina with eight different wineries. He credits this international experience with not only developing his Spanish skills, but also giving him “a bigger picture” and informing his winemaking towards “flavorful, distinctive, interesting wines that are drinkable and more consumable.” In 2006, Rasmussen joined the Sierra Madre Vineyard project, which he calls “right up his alley” because of his enthusiasm for and approach to winemaking. “The vineyard offers some of the best Pinot Noir in the state,” he said, “and they have also pleasantly surprised a lot of people with the Chardonnay – it’s just really a world class location for both of these varietals.”
These days in addition to being Foghat Cellars Winemaker, Steve is a Winemaker for NakedWines.com and will be also be offering three terrific new vintages on that label. He never stops!