Interviews

Good Winemaking Is About Timing and Balance Says, Lisa Strid

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16/12/2022 “I love speaking face-to-face with wine lovers, watching and listening to them as they experience wines”.

Lisa Strid, the winemaker at Aridus Winery in Willcox, Arizona, is a Wyoming native who fell in love with wine while working alongside her uncle on his small vineyard and winery in the wilds of western Washington. After a year of pruning, netting, crushing, and fermenting Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, she realized she wanted to make a career of the work, and entered Oregon State University to study enology and viticulture. Strid is pronounced ‘streed,’ rhyming with ‘seed.’ 

While in school, Lisa interned at Alexana Winery in Oregon’s Dundee Hills, where she learned the ins and outs of luxury, small-lot winemaking. She moved to California upon graduation to take a position at E&J Gallo Winery. At Gallo, she worked on the Specialty Winemaking team. After nearly two years she transitioned to the role of Research Winemaker. In this position, she focused on innovative equipment use, new technology validation trials, and the exploration of process-driven changes to target different wine styles. 

Aridus Winery

Image: Aridus Winery; Source: Instagram

Lisa joined the Aridus team in June of 2016, just in time to help scale up production to over 100 tons. She enjoys working with the winery’s small team of dedicated individuals and is developing expertise in the intricacies of Arizona wine growing. She enjoys working on a scale that allows for close contact with customers, growers, and grapes alike. One of the unique aspects of making wine at Aridus is that Lisa works with twelve different grape varieties. “I love speaking face-to-face with wine lovers, watching and listening to them as they experience wines that may well become their favorites. My passion encompasses the whole of the craft of winemaking – the cycles of the seasons, ushering a grape from vine to bottle, and those magic moments around a dinner table. It engages all senses and requires both scientific rigor and intuitive leaps of imagination,” she explains. 

At Aridus Lisa directs not only the production of Aridus’ wines but also is responsible for the winery’s custom crush operation.

Tell us a little about your background and journey into winemaking.

I'm originally from Wyoming - I found my way into winemaking after moving to Oregon and starting to help my uncle out with his hobby vineyard and making wine with him.

Your current role and what does your day look like?

Winemaker. This time of year, I'm typically blending, running analyses, and helping out on the bottling line.

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What inspired you to become a winemaker?

I like drinking wine, and I like having a job that's physical, scientific, and artistic.

How do you think a winemaker can help in driving marketing and sales personally?

For better or worse, there's a mystique around the winemaking process that people find really captivating.  So it can be a big driver to get people out to the tasting rooms to meet the winemaker. Also, people are really curious about the process, so anything you can do to demystify it for folks can be very helpful for marketing purposes.

Aridus Vineyards

Image: Aridus Vineyards; Source: Instagram

Shorter daylight hours and cooler temperatures trigger grapevines to begin moving into their dormant phase. During this time, the vines survive off carbohydrates stored in their roots.

Define a good winemaker

To be a good winemaker you have to understand timing and balance. Do the right things at the right time, and no more or less.

What is the hardest part of a winemaker's job?

The hours during harvest - it just gets exhausting and it's harder to do things properly when you're tired. You have to really work to stay healthy and recover well during harvest (and the rest of the year, too). But especially at that crucial time of year.

What do you do when you are not working/making wine?

Aerial circus arts

What are the current challenges winemakers are facing according to you?

Climate change - we're used to dealing with seasonal variability, but the climatic shifts we're facing are much bigger than that.

Staying relevant to younger consumers. Wine hasn't necessarily done the greatest job in convincing Millennials or Gen Z to make it a part of their meals/routines.

Aridus Wine

Image: Aridus Wine

What skill or topic you are learning currently in wine and why?

I'm currently getting an MBA to better understand the fundamentals of the business side of things. It's really easy to become siloed and not see the bigger picture of the wine business.

What is your idea of a good life?

Lots of free time and a lot of tasty food

Your favourite 2-3 wine books?

Monitoring the winemaking process from grapes to wine; techniques and concepts (Iland, Bruer, Ewart, Markides, and Sitters)

Concepts in Wine Chemistry (Margalit)

Header Image: Lisa Strid; Source: Instagram

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