Michelle Seufert is a force to be reckoned with: winemaker, jewelry designer, mom to two girls. She offers a look into her life as a woman in the wine industry. Want to learn a little more about what it takes to be a winemaker and the work that’s involved? Then this is the episode for you!
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Full episode transcript
Ute: Welcome to the Thru The Grapewine Podcast. I am Ute and today’s episode is a fun interview with a woman winemaker in the Willamette Valley. Her name is Michelle Seufert, and she has been a winemaker for a decade for her family’s winery. This is a great interview with lots of cool information about the winemaking process.
So if you are at all interested in what goes into making a wine, then this is definitely the interview for you. I’m excited for you to hear it. And also, listeners, please always check the show notes as we add important information there, plus some downloads, and of course our topic request form for you to fill out.
And with that, let’s get right into it!
Well, so, hello Michelle, and thank you so much for being here.
Michelle Seufert: Hello. Thank you so much for having me. It’s my pleasure.
Ute: So I, I know you are owner and winemaker at Seufert Winery, it is here in the Willamette Valley. But tell us first about yourself. Who are you? Who’s Michelle?
You know, have you been in Oregon your entire life? And you know, just kind of give us a little rundown of who, of who you are.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah, absolutely. I will give the cliff notes cuz I feel like a question of who I am could be a little complicated.
I’ve had the fortunate ability to live a very full life. Born and raised Oregonian. And grew up in the small quaint town of Eugene. Absolutely loved it. Became enamored with bright lights, big city, and started my hospitality in food and beverage journey in Manhattan in the year of 2000, and lived there off and on almost for about 10 years, and I eventually moved back to Oregon.
The great thing about being in the city,and what I believe shaped my current journey now, is that I worked in hospitality and event planning, and so my responsibility was to help people with their celebrations. Celebrations always include food and beverage. They always include some sort of fermented product.
Where people toast and they gather, and it was wonderful. You know, I learned about cultures and regions, food types, wine styles from all over the world in the bustling melting pot of Manhattan. And I think that’s where I really started to gain an interest for what sitting around a table really meets.
And when I moved back to Oregon, all of a sudden I noticed this bustling wine industry. When I grew up here, that was not very prevalent, or maybe it wasn’t on my radar, but in the ’80s, there were only a handful of brands that were producing product in the Willamette Valley, and now it is a bustling career.
I had the opportunity to learn in this industry, grow. I met my other half, Jim Seufert, who started and founded the business in 2005 and essentially had the opportunity to work in the cellar and grow into it and grow our family and our family business. So…
Ute: That is so cool!
Michelle Seufert: Oh, thank you.
Ute: I wanna have a husband who’s in the wine industry and starts a winery.
I’m gonna have to just open the door here real quick and go, “Hey, Mike…”
Michelle Seufert: Well, you know, it was completely unexpected and I think it’s sometimes one of those beautiful things where you just meet someone and your life changes and you go, “okay, this is what I am doing now.” You know, if you would’ve told me 15 years ago, “hey, you’re gonna be obsessed with process improvement and organic chemistry, in production and manufacturing.” I would’ve laughed, . But it’s absolutely everything I live and breathe and I’m very thankful for it. Yeah!
Ute: That is awesome. I love that. So you said you’ve been, you were in, in Manhattan, New York for 10 years.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah.
Ute: But the winery has existed for, since 2005.
Michelle Seufert: Correct.
Ute: So how long have you been a part of it then?
And, and I’m assuming you didn’t just like hop in and became the winemaker , but kinda gradually grew into that?
Michelle Seufert: Yeah, so I worked in the cellar in ’10 and ’11. And ’12 was my first year running the primary fermentation program. And that was where we kind of transferred into the daily responsibilities.
And so it’s essentially been about 10 years of official winemaking, you know, which some people might think, “wow, well that’s a whole decade.” Yeah, but I have only made wine 10 times. And I think that’s something that keeps it in perspective because you only make wine once a year. You only have one shot once a year. And yeah, I do small batches, so maybe I do 15 or 20 batches a year. But it is still one shot. And I think that’s always something that keeps me learning and growing and reflecting on previous years in our skillset and how we evolve as a brand.
Ute: Oh my gosh. That, that must be so humbling when you’re looking at it that way, because like you said, you know, I’m, I’m looking at you I’m going “10 years. Wow.”
Michelle Seufert: Thank you.
Ute: But when you’re looking at this from this perspective, I’ve only done this 10 times. That’s like, ooh, wow. That’s, that’s incredible. So, and, and we’re gonna definitely get a little bit more into your winemaking, but before we jump into that, I also saw on your website that you design your own jewelry.
Michelle Seufert: Oh, thank you so much for bringing that up. Yes. I have always been a creative individual and went to art school, and architecture school in my youth, and absolutely love design and creation. And, you know, I also love sparkly things. [inaudible] passions together. And I now have a jewelry line and it is something I really enjoy to be meditative, personally as growth and also creating things that people want to wear that they believe adorn them to be, you know, feel their best self is really exciting, encouraging and I just love it. It’s, it’s been really fun.
Ute: So if I come out to drink wine, am I gonna see some jewelry?
Michelle Seufert: Yes, I have a big display in the tasting room. Mm-hmm.
Ute: Ooh, I love it. That could be an expensive day for me when I come out there to taste wine and buy wine and jewelry.
Michelle Seufert: It can be. It can be, yes!
Ute: Well, so I am gonna have you actually send me the link to your jewelry website, if you have one?
Michelle Seufert: Yeah, absolutely.
Ute: And then I’ll put that into the show notes as well.
Michelle Seufert: Oh, wonderful.
Ute: So I do want to know because, you know, I was very much, you know, in the tasting room and selling and, and all of that, and I am getting my wine certifications.
But the behind the scenes, and I’ve said this in previous episodes with others, I’ve never really experienced. I’m considering even just helping with a harvest so that I can see what’s happening there.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah.
Ute: But what is it like for you as a winemaker, like you know, the day in the life of a winemaker in the spring versus summer versus fall and winter?
Michelle Seufert: Yeah. There are definitely seasonal aspects to this industry, but first and foremost, I would absolutely share, you know, people think it’s very glamorous. It’s a lot of manual labor. So it is not as, I think glamorous as all the lifestyle photos that you see on websites. You know, as a winemaker you’re not sitting in a vineyard drinking wine chatting with your friends in, in a beautiful suit, like, that’s just not daily life!
Ute: You’re not? I am shocked.
Michelle Seufert: And so, you know, one way that I try to share that with people is that, you know, your legal designation is that you are an agricultural food processor. So essentially I’m a food processor. Yes. I make a fermented beverage. And that’s also another governing license. But you are essentially doing a process. So there are times of years where it’s more in depth than others.
You know, the, this time wintertime of year, we’re doing a lot of sensory evaluation and blending, and that is more of the fun part of looking back at previous years and going, “oh, look at how this is developing”, and what decisions are we making for that in the future. Spring contains a lot of new releases.
And a lot of bottling. So for our particular brand, we’re very small. We do under a thousand cases, and when I say we make everything and do everything ourselves by hand, that means when I take something from barrel or tank and put it in bottle, I have one simple machine for each of those processes that I’m doing by hand.
Michelle Seufert: And I have one, one full-time team member. She’s in the tasting room, but sometimes I bring her over to the winery to help me with these projects. And we do have family and friends that support us in this endeavor, but a lot of it is very physical activity. But I absolutely love it because when you take the journey of having the wine that, the grapes that come in to your winery that are delivered onto your crush pad in, you know, August or September when there’s harvest, and then you ferment it and then you guide it through that entire process. It’s, it’s very fun. I find it very rewarding and I love the ability to make something and to turn it into that.
But there is a lot of, you know, when it comes to manufacturing, there are a lot of logistics. Sometimes winemakers joke about being, you know, playing Tetris and just being obsessed with scheduling and logistics because that is a lot of the aspects of it. You’re constantly checking on product. You’re creating what you’re gonna do next.
And is that a production day? Is it gonna settle? Are you topping barrels? Are you pulling samples? Are you running lab reports? And when you’re actually making the wine that is, you know, 20 hour days of oversee fermentation. And for some of us, we do all the fermentation by hand ourselves, and so it’s quite fun.
But there are a lot of work boots involved with that that I think a lot of people don’t realize. But I absolutely love it. You know, winemaking also requires a lot of best practices of sanitization. And so there are constant, I, I think I would probably spend 50 to 80% of my time worrying about sanitation and cleaning tanks and cleaning hoses, and making all of that to be a neutral microbial state so that everything is adequate for housing wine. So that’s also another aspect that, you know, a lot of people don’t realize is something to be fixated on. You know, cellars can be a little bit cold, so there are always a lot of layers involved. You have to keep the wine and an appropriate temperature. Your body temperature is not applicable in that scenario.
And so, you know, the cellar’s usually cold and there’s a lot of equipment, but there’s also something wonderful about the fact that it, it is a living thing, you know, wine changes over time and that’s because it has active microbes and it’s an actively living thing. I feel when I’m in the winery, in the cellar working and doing those things, I can sense that, and maybe that’s just me getting in my, my phase and being in the cellar too long and not engaging with other humans.
But , I, I do feel that there’s, there’s a, a wonderful sense of purpose in all of that, you know, simple manual labor. I do think t’s really fun.
Ute: Yeah. You know, gosh, I don’t even know who it was that I talked to that told me that it is a lot about cleaning. I think it might have been in one of my previous interviews where that was a big topic. And I also remember Ali, who’s my business partner, and she, she’s the Millennial to my Gen Xer.
Michelle Seufert: Oh, nice.
Ute: And she has worked as a harvest helper at Penner-Ash.
Michelle Seufert: Nice.
Ute: And she absolutely just loved it. And I know that she also talked about, you know, a lot of it was cleaning, a lot of it was making sure that everything is super clean.
But yes, she, she loved it and she said it was hard work and she would come home at the end of the day, dirty and exhausted.
Michelle Seufert: Oh, yeah.
Ute: But she absolutely just loved it. And she, she has talked about how she would definitely go and do this, you know, as a permanent job as, as something full-time. That is something that she would really enjoy. So fingers crossed for her. I, I hope that…
Michelle Seufert: Oh, that’s wonderful to hear because the enthusiasm and the passion and being okay with the fact that that is a majority of the responsibility of winemaking is, is a huge part of it. So I think she’s got the right mindset to grow. That sounds awesome.
Ute: For sure. Yes, she does. She’s amazing.
Okay, so we have, of course, you know, aside from the listeners who are working, you know, in a tasting room, kind of more customer facing, we have a lot of listeners who are not in the wine industry. And who really don’t truly have an understanding of what goes into making a wine.
So can we talk a little bit about what goes into making a Pinot Noir? I know you have several of them. One of them a whole cluster Pinot Noir. So can you talk about that a little bit?
Michelle Seufert: Do you want me to talk about the whole cluster?
Ute: Well, let’s start with that.
Michelle Seufert: Okay. So the whole cluster Pinot Noir was a product that we started in 2013, and that essentially was new for us. It’s one of my favorites.
So when you talk about winemaking, you have different ways that you can make the wine. Every winemaker has different decisions, and one of those decisions is, do I keep the berries attached to the stem or do I remove them? And in 2013 in the Willamette Valley, we had a really unusual weather pattern.
We had a class two typhoon that was headed to Japan and it ended up touching down over the Willamette Valley. We had a lot of vineyards very quickly looking to clip the clusters off the vine, get them in buckets, get them to the wineries, and it was one of the most interesting things that we had happened in, I can say, quite a long time.
And during that process, we had a vineyard come in and everything was just in bucket. And I went, you know what? This is gonna be the year I am gonna start a whole cluster. And we are gonna put this directly into the tank. And what I love about that process is rather than removing the berry from the stem… so we all know that when we, we pluck a grape from the stem there’s an exposed part of the grape, right? So you have juice and pulp that will eventually come out and the the berry will soften.
Well, when you ferment whole cluster, everything is still attached and it takes much longer to ferment, and it actually ferments through the process of carbonic maceration where it decomposes on the inside and then bursts the skins.
And so it’s much more drawn out. It’s slower and it’s actually one of my favorite processes because you get a lot of added front palate tannins. You get really soft floral aromatics, and I think those are really beautiful attributes of Pinot Noir. But you also have to be careful with that style of fermentation because you can end up with astringent green flavors and astringent tannins.
So it really depends on, I would say, the vineyard site, how the fruit is looking. Whether your stems are still green or brown and kinda some certain benchmarks on when you harvest.
Ute: Right. So can you talk for just a moment about what flavor, or, you know, you, you were talking about the tannins and I know not everybody knows really what tannins are and that having whole clusters would actually increase the amount of tannins in some cases.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah, it will. And so it’ll make it a little bit bolder. There are certain varietals of grapes that have bolder flavors, so for example, a Cabernet Sauvignon is going to have inherently a lot of tannins that are in the skins and the pulp that make the flavor bigger, kind of at the back area of the cheeks, back by your molars. Sometimes it feels very drying. Sometimes it feels like sandpaper to some. And that is kinda the perception of tannin.
Sometimes when you have a, a black tea as opposed to a chamomile tea, you can feel the difference on something that sits heavy on your back palate.
Ute: That’s, that’s what I’ve always told people is think about sucking on a black teabag.
Michelle Seufert: Yes! And Pinot Noir, in terms of all the varietals of wine that you can make, it has very, it’s on the lighter spectrum of having tannins. So it tends, tends to be softer and smoother, which I think for some people is why it becomes overlooked because it’s, it’s inherently very subtle and smooth. And so using different processes like whole cluster to increase that tannin profile is something that could be fun to experiment.
But yeah, I think I find in Pinot Noir, tannins tend to be very elegant, very smooth, not as bold as other wines. And if you’re a wine drinker, drink what you like. You know, for some people they say, “Hey, Pinot Noir is too boring for me. It’s too simple.” I say, “that’s fine. Then go for something a little more robust.”
It really is about what you like as an individual, not what society or the sommelier trying to sell you something tells you you should. I feel very strongly about that.
Ute: Sure. So how long does it take you from harvest to bottling to make that whole cluster Pinot Noir?
Michelle Seufert: That’s a great question. For us, it’s about four years.
I like for the wine to sit in barrel or vessel for two years and bottle age for at least two years minimum. But I will, yeah, we’ll do the evaluation over time. Some years, some weather patterns and how the wine turns out need more time in barrel, or need more time in bottle or vice versa, or not as much time at all.
It really, in my opinion, is guided by the weather, which is something that we just have to be reactive to and understand.
Ute: Yes, yes, absolutely. So then my next question is, how long would you then suggest a good quality Pinot Noir can be stored?
Michelle Seufert: I think 5, 8, 10 years, and I think for many brands more than 10 years. And I feel confident saying very nice, well-made structured Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, 10 years plus. But you also have to understand that you need structure in acid for that long-term aging. And you should really ask where you’re purchasing from, if that’s likely. And I think as a, a new beginner, that’s, those are great questions to ask.
There are some people who’ve been enjoying wine quite a while that can sense that when you try it. But there’s a difference in, in branding, right. Some brands create a wine to be enjoyed within two years in the market immediately and others create something they want to age long term in a cellar.
And so there’s a difference in the recipe. And I think asking questions when you’re trying something and looking to buy it, and whether you’re gonna put it in a cellar or not, is just, is a great way to handle that.
Ute: For sure. For sure. And that’s why I do often recommend to people, you know, when you go into a wine store you know, not into a winery. Go to a store where you know that they do have a wine and beer manager, usually that’s what they call them. A person who is specifically working in that department who can answer these questions. Because you know some of the big grocery stores you can walk in and there’s not a single person around who can tell you about the wine.
And so this is a huge plus to have someone who knows what they’re talking about. And if you do have a winery around, I really, really do recommend you go and talk to someone at winery. And, and I get it, you know, wine can be expensive when you’re going into winery, but you will get that educational component that you might not get otherwise.
And so then after you’ve been to the winery and you’ve purchased some wines there and you walk into a store, you can walk into that store with a lot more confidence because you have more knowledge already.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah, absolutely.
Ute: So I do also see a white Pinot Noir.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah.
Ute: And this is so fun. I used to work for Hawks View and they have a white Pinot, and the white Pinot was initially reserved from members only.
Michelle Seufert: Okay.
Ute: And then when Claudio Ponte took over, he made it available for everyone. And the white Pinot was a huge hit. I’m sure it still is! Among members and non members, but can you tell me about how you make your white Pinot and how is it different from a rose?
Michelle Seufert: It is different from a rose for two aspects. So a lot of rose that’s made in the Willamette Valley is saignee style, and that is a French word for “to bleed”. So you will take the juice from your fermentation vat that has settled at the very top of the tank and bleed that off and segment that into a rose.
White Pinot Noir is different in a sense that it is lightly pressed whole cluster Pinot Noir. So I essentially put that in a pneumatic water press and I squished the grapes very, very lightly. And there is a theory that that first free run juice that you obtain from the clusters is a a very rich liquid gold. And during that time you segment it and then ferment it as a white wine.
So when you have that light press, then you have very little color and tannin extraction, but you get all of the really nice aspects and aromatics of Pinot Noir. That is what I love about creating and making the white Pinot.
My first opportunity to do that was in 2014, and I was just so ecstatic. I have some really funny photos of how excited I was about it at the press. And so when I make my white Pinot, I essentially use it at our white wine protocol, which is very Alsatian in our approach in a sense that I ferment at a low grade temperature for span of three months or longer. And then no ML, so no secondary malolactic fermentation, which keeps bright acidity. So what I love about a white Pinot Noir, that I think people should do more of, is you have all of the really nice, elegant, beautiful bouquet aromatics of Pinot in the bright, crisp acidity of a white. And you can chill it.
And then why I think it’s such a wonderful patio, sipper, and a summer wine is when you’re sitting outside and your glass warms up, it is still elegant and beautiful, and it starts to take those components of a red wine. It’s one of my favorite products and I love seeing more people make white Pinot Noir in the area and it’s, I find it exciting.
One thing to keep in mind, like Rose, is that some of them can be sweet. Some can have residual sugar, and so that’s always a question to ask. I think with any white wine before you enjoy it, do you like sweetness in the finish or not?
Ute: Right. That’s a really good question, and I really have found that the white Pinot is definitely very much a wine that brings wine drinkers into the winery that would not normally enjoy wine.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah, absolutely.
Ute: Yeah. They, they like their whites and, and even then they’re not always sold on it, but you bring a white Pinot and all of a sudden all bets are off and people are going, “oh my gosh, this is great stuff.” Obviously you’re very excited about winemaking, so I’m assuming you’re just gonna do this for the rest of your life. Yes?
Michelle Seufert: You know, I think so. I do have… we have a 10 year old and a seven year old daughter. We have a family business in the hopes of creating generational wealth and a legacy for them. And if one of them wanted to move into that winemaking role, I would gladly welcome that. You know, as I mentioned, it is very physical and labor intensive.
And, you know, some days already, even at the spritely age of 40, I feel like, “wow, I’m getting too old for this.” So, you know, I, I would love to continue to do it. I think, I think it’s wonderful and I think it’s a, a great life. But, you know, it’s, it is something that does require a lot of you know, onsite management and attention. So I’m just not quite sure what, what that means for me.
Ute: Sure, I hear you.
So one of the questions that I have been getting since I started working in the wine industry and, my husband, is actually making a little bit of fun of me for buying a lot of expensive wines, which is not untrue.
But, as a winemaker, do you only have the big, expensive wines in your own private cellar or do you buy some cheaper wines for everyday use?
Michelle Seufert: You know, as an individual, I am not impressed with something just being expensive and society telling me that it’s good. So I am very scrutinizing when it comes to that, but I do have a personal preference. I love champagne. I love classic grower champagne, small houses and large houses. So if I were to say that I have a few, you know, expensive things that I’ve laid down, they would be some of the classic champagnes of Krug, Dom Perignon.
I love some of the grower champagnes of Pierre Peters and Guy Charlamagne. Some of those smaller brands. It, those would be things that I, I lean towards if I walk into a wine shop and go, “oh, ok, I’m gonna spend some ridiculous money right now.” That’s, that’s kind of my kryptonite on that category.
Ute: Yeah, I definitely feel like, you know, I, I have to remind myself sometimes… you know, there are bottles of wine that are perfectly wonderful to drink that you don’t have to spend $40 for.
Michelle Seufert: Absolutely.
Ute: Or you know, more than that. But I also have found that the more I understand about it, the more I really like to build a cellar with wine that I can store. You know, a wine that I can say, “Hey, here’s a Barolo I just purchased, and I’m gonna drink this in 10 years. And I’m excited already about drinking this wine in 10 years.”
Michelle Seufert: Yeah.
Ute: So it’s, it’s almost like a hobby, I’m, I’m gonna say. You know, others collect stamps, I collect wine. .
Michelle Seufert: Well, it’s, it’s absolutely a hobby and you bring up a great point. Something does not have to be expensive to be cellared. And so for example, my other half, Jim Seufert in, I think it was 1995, he bought a few cases of a brand out of Portland that you could find in the grocery store for $5 a bottle.
Now he knew it had amazing structure. It had beautiful tannins and it had nice acid. Therefore it had a good balance for aging. And, and this Cab from Washington has aged for 30 years and it is smooth and delicious and beautiful. And yeah, it was three to $5 in the grocery store. I mean, that is something remarkable that there are finds to be had at every price point.
And some things will age nicely and some things will not. And that’s, I think part of the journey of training your palate to understand. And like you mentioned earlier, you can also get opinions from people in the industry who’s jobs [inaudible] for you to say, “Hey, can I lay this down?”
Ute: Yeah. And you did just mention this, and I just wanna make sure that everybody understands this. You were talking about acidity and its ability to age. Can you talk a little bit about what happens with these higher acidic wines as they’re aging?
Michelle Seufert: Well, they provide a fundamental function in ensuring that… you need a nice balance and you also need a good amount of acid to create structure around those tannins, but also to create an environment where you, you do not have any microbes that are gonna grow and evolve, that are undesirable.
And so there’s, there’s a really nice fine line of creating a good balance in that bottle where everything can grow and mature, but also can be preserved nicely.
Ute: Right, I think this is gonna probably be something that we can fill an entire episode with.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah.
Ute: So maybe I’ll bring you back one of these days we’ll talk about aging wine specifically.
Michelle Seufert: Yes.
Ute: So now let’s go back from, or, or kind of pivot a little bit from the wine in particular, and talk just a little bit about you being a woman in the industry. Obviously this is what our focus is. And do you feel that you had to work harder or work harder to gain respect from male counterparts in the industry, and if so, why do you think so? And if not, why not?
Michelle Seufert: Oh, absolutely. And that could also fill its own episode. It is very interesting. This is absolutely a male dominated industry. And you know, I will use the crass term of it being a boys club. It completely is. And it is something…
Ute: We have called it that a couple of times actually.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah. And, and it’s something. There are a lot of industries where that is prevalent. I was recently talking to a good friend of mine who is a chemical and mechanical engineer, and she works on site in construction and is constantly told, “oh, you’re at the wrong site. What are you doing here?” And, and I feel like that’s a regular thing that happens to me on a daily basis.
I would love to say that after 10 years in the industry, it’s gotten better. I don’t feel that I can say that confidently and, and truthfully. It was just two months ago that I was loading up a semi-truck on the forklift with pallets that were getting shipped across the country, that someone on the phone that was arranging for me to be there for them to pick it up go, “you’re the one that’s loading it in the truck? Well, how are you gonna do that?” I said, “with a forklift.” And they said, “you can drive a forklift? But, you are lady.” That is literally what this individual said to me. Now, I just laughed because after many, you know, a decade and then after that I just go, “okay, well I’m just gonna choose kindness.”
But it’s something that I encounter on a regular basis, and also depending on how you present as an individual. Also affects whether people take your credibility on, you know, if you are feminine or you dress up. That also translates to whether they think you have the capacity to be a good winemaker and, and unfortunately I find it disheartening, but it’s also something that I will continue to have conversations with people about.
And that’s also why I recently took a vice-chair position on the diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion committee at the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. So we can continue to have these conversations and talk to people and move the pendulum to a better conversation.
You know, I do, I do deal with misogyny and the stereotyping of that in my tasting room, and when I was younger, I used to handle it differently than I do now. But talking with people and saying, “Hey, I can do just as good as job as anyone else” is really important, and I think it’s something that we constantly need to keep talking about because it’s absolutely there. And I do, you know, even on year 10 plus in the industry deal with on. On a regular basis.
Ute: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And this is something that, I mean, I’ve talked about in the show before you, you definitely get it in the tasting room too. And I’m not working in the tasting room now, but we have had these situations, you know, where a male guest would put their arms around my waist uninvited, and I’m going “excuse me. Would you do that to a guy? Do you feel that you are justified to put your hands on another man?”
Michelle Seufert: Right.
Ute: And that’s of course never the case!
Michelle Seufert: No, no.
Ute: But yes. So thank you for that. And, and I do think it is definitely a conversation that needs to be had, and that is very important.
And I always say, you know, this is not about you know, poo-pooing men or discrediting anything…
Michelle Seufert: Oh, not at all.
Ute: …they’re doing, it’s just about as women wanting to be treated the same way as men, because we are every bit as good as they are.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Ute: Well, so good. We’re on the same page.
Michelle Seufert: And you know, to be honest, in, in my journey of this, I, I still have a lot of days where I’ll be in meetings or I will have a client come in, or I’ll be talking with someone in the cellar or a distributor that I’m trying to showcase something to, and, you know, they’ll treat me in a certain way, but I’ll go home and see my 10 year old, my seven year old daughters who are completely unapologetic for their STEM intelligence. For their confidence. And I’m like, you know, every generation and every conversation we have through education, things evolve and change. And, and that I find is a really great point of encouragement, source of, of power for me.
Ute: Absolutely. And I have also said this on, on previous episodes about my own daughters and how they are one, looking at the world and how they are completely unapologetic about who they are and what they want out of life. And it’s amazing to watch them because lemme tell you when I was my daughter’s age, you know…
My older daughter, she’s already 28. At that point, I was definitely waking up to it, but when I was younger, you were given this understanding if a guy did something bad to you, then it was somehow you were to blame for it.
Michelle Seufert: Yes. Mm-hmm.
Ute: Because of a behavior or because of clothes that you wore or things like that, and my daughters are like, “uh-uh! No!”
Michelle Seufert: Wonderful.
Ute: Not buying into that.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah. It’s so wonderful. Yeah. I have similar, you know experience growing up with it. Those exact factors you just mentioned.
Ute: Yeah. All right, well, so now that we have that.
Michelle Seufert: It’s part of the conversation!
Ute: It is part of the conversation and it’s a very important, important part of the conversation. For sure. So I mean, we are kind of at the end here already at like almost 40 minutes in, which is amazing. It always goes so fast. Have you traveled to other wine regions in the US and internationally, and which one really sticks out to you as as kind of like your favorite that you could go to over and over?
Michelle Seufert: Oh, that is a great question. My international travels, I did most of them before I got into wine. And many of them were not wine regions. Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, kind of obscure places that at the time didn’t grow wine. I have been to New York wine industry. I love it.
It’s a little bit different than what I would choose to revisit. I love the Washington wine scene. California wine scene is not too much personally for me because it has a lot of, there’s a lot of showiness to it. I just really love more of a, a down to earth, relaxed atmosphere. But I, I would love to engage more in other regions and having studied all of the regions, which as you mentioned, you’re doing WSET3. That was something that when I did that, I absolutely loved learning about all the microclimates and all the really interesting weather patterns and the trellising patterns and all the different grapes.
And so having studied all of that, if I could pick a place I would want to go to, you know, visit my, my ancestors in Germany and Switzerland and Austria. And just really dive into some good Spatburgunder and you know, go all out on Riesling. That is kinda my daydream, but also being a champagne appreciator, I would worry that I would go to Champagne and never come home.
Ute: I think you and Ali will get along just fine.
Michelle Seufert: Excellent, excellent. I look forward to meeting her.
Ute: Ali is very much our sparkling wine gal and we, we always have the little competition going, you know, are you Team Bubbles or Team Red? And she’s, she’s winning with her bubbles, I have to say.
Michelle Seufert: Excellent!
Ute: But, so yeah, I think that is all I have. I think this was incredibly educational and very, very informative for our listeners. Thank you so much for, for being there and for answering these questions.
Can you just as a final little thing, tell us just real quick, you know, your Seufert winery, where are you? How many days a week are you open? Because we’re gonna put all of that into the show.
Michelle Seufert: Yeah. Well thank you so much for having me and Seufert Winery. We’re located in the Willamette Valley in downtown Dayton, Oregon. We are open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 to 5, and we encourage our guests to come and experience what we call our Oregon wine, the Oregon Way.
Which is just a quiet, intimate atmosphere tasting through terroir driven wines that we make by hand.
Ute: I love it. Wonderful.
Michelle Seufert: Thank you.
Ute: Thank you so very much. Again, listeners, everything is going to be in the show notes as always, both the link to the winery and to the jewelry site.
Michelle Seufert: Oh thank you.
Ute: Really all I have left at this point is of course to say Prost!