With a name like Wineburg, it might seem like fate that Rebekah Wineburg would become a winemaker.
“I was born to do it,” she said only half-jokingly. “The more I get into winemaking, the more I love it.”
Wineburg joined Yountville’s Buccella Wines in 2009.
How did you get into wine?
When I was 16 years old, I accompanied my parents on a trip to the Napa Valley. While visiting wineries I thought “I could enjoy doing that” and that thought stayed with me all throughout my undergraduate degree in chemistry and biology. After graduation I got a harvest internship in a winery lab and I’ve never looked back.
What’s a common misconception you get about working for a winery?
A lot of people think we just spend all day tasting wine and having al fresco lunches in the vineyard. They don’t quite realize it’s a lot of hard, dirty, sticky work, which I love.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to get into the wine industry?
Just jump right in. Harvest is the best time to do it because that’s the time of year we do 60 to 70 percent of our work. It gives you the real version of working for a winery. If you don’t like harvest, you’re not going to like wine production.
How about for someone who wants to become a winemaker?
I want to UC Davis for my master’s (degree). That’s a great program. It’s very worthwhile to have worked one harvest before going to school, because then the classes mean a lot more. Find a mentor if possible — someone who is a little bit further along in their career.
Who is yours?
What’s new at your business?
We just got a new cellar master, Rolando Garcia. We are a small winery building our team.
If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
Arcane and restrictive shipping laws.
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Being a small winery has many benefits but one of the challenges to being so small is having a small voice with distributors.
Whom do you most admire in the business world?
I’m very impressed by Salman Khan, who created the nonprofit online educational website Khan Academy. He’s created over 3,000 short lessons that help eliminate the economic barriers to a quality education.
What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?
I would like to take a year or two off to organize an amazing journey around the world.
Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?
Mindy Kaling, Mel Brooks, John Cameron Mitchell.
What job would you like to try/not like to try?
Try: Ethnobotany, the study of the relationship between people and plants.
Not try: Accountant.
What was your first job?
My first job was as a kitchen aid at summer camp where I spent my days washing dishes and my nights hanging out with my friends.
What’s the worst job you ever had?
Gift shop cashier.
What’s on your to-do list?
(Travel) the Trans-Siberian railroad.
What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
That as a child, I was painfully shy.
What was your childhood ambition?
To be a research biologist in the manner of Gerald Durrell, author of “My Family and Other Animals.”
If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
I would be lounging on the beach in Byron Bay, Australia.
Which other business person(s) would you like to see featured in “10 Questions for…”
Jeff and Tiffany Larson from Napa Adventure Boot Camp.
Reach Wineburg at 944-1000 or Buccella.com.