Stacy Vogel, Winemaker, Miner Family Wines
Miner Family Wines Winemaker Stacy Vogel didn’t always know she wanted to be a winemaker. Growing up in a family of four in Greensboro, North Carolina, she was a typical free-spirited young girl who loved books, drama, dance, and community theater. Her dad worked in sales and her mom worked in the school system, where even the subject of alcohol was banned from conversation. It never occurred to her that at age 36, she’d be only the second winemaker in Miner Family history, living her life nearly 3,000 miles away from home in the renowned Napa Valley.
The Early Years
During her sophomore year at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Stacy pursued her education abroad and moved to Spain. She started to notice how much of an impact food and wine had in everyone’s daily lives there. And she began to appreciate how the two went hand-in-hand.
After graduating from UNC in 1999, with a B.S. Degree in Biology, Stacy had her sights focused on a career in medicine and being a doctor. She entered the Peace Corps in Zambia and spent time in the maternal and child healthcare program. But it wasn’t what she had expected it to be and she became very unhappy.
Discovering a Love for Wine
After the Peace Corps, Stacy returned to North Carolina before moving to New York and taking a job in the IT industry. It wasn’t long before she returned to North Carolina and started working for a wine and beer distributor doing sales administration. In this role she had access to wines from all over the world, and was able to hone her tasting skills. It was there that she truly fell in love with wine, taking the initiative to meet with winemakers and uncovering exactly what they do each day.
She had her first real conversation about wine with Jed Steele, winemaker for Steele Wines. “I was already familiar with his wines and really liked them,” Stacy recalls. “I kept probing, asking more and more questions, and Jed was happy to share his viewpoint on winemaking with me. You could say this was my ‘aha’ moment, when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in winemaking. I set my sights on California.”
Stacy attended the U.C. Davis Viticulture and Enology program, where she earned her Master’s Degree. While in Davis, she met her future husband, David Nakaji, who was also pursuing a career in winemaking. Their love for making wine grew into a love for each other and David proposed during their final year in school.
After graduation, David was interested in working in different wine regions around the world to understand their terroir and microclimates. He applied for and won a scholarship to work in Burgundy, France at the coveted Louis Latour.
“This was an incredible opportunity for David, but since we were newly engaged, neither one of us liked the idea of being separated for a long time. I approached the U.C. Davis Scholarship coordinator, from the University of Dijon, and he was kind enough to place me in an internship as well. I was thrilled to learn I’d be working a harvest at Bouchard Père et Fils, one of the oldest wine estates in Burgundy.”
After the harvest in Burgundy, Stacy and David wanted to expand their education by working in the southern hemisphere. They decided to move to Australia, where they learned about winemaking in a climate that was constantly dry, and also how to make more than 20 different varieties of wine – quite a contrast from their experience in France.
When their visas expired, both young winemakers returned to the United States and realized it was time to pick a place to really put down their roots. But the possibilities of where to go were endless.
“We finally decided on Napa Valley and moved here in 2005,” said Stacy. “With a high concentration of wineries in the area, we thought Napa would provide the greatest number of job opportunities for two young winemakers, and help us launch our careers in the industry.”
It proved to be the best decision they made.
The Miner Family Wines Adventure Begins
In Napa, Stacy worked as an intern for a few different wineries and gained valuable hands-on experience. She spent time in the cellars dragging around barrels and doing other physically demanding work. It wasn’t a glamorous job by any means but she knew that all new winemakers have to do some heavy lifting before moving their way up the ladder.
Almost eight years ago, Stacy landed an assistant winemaker job at Miner Family Wines, a small family-run winery tucked along the eastern hills of the Oakville appellation that focuses on reserve-style blends. Working under the tutelage of Gary Brookman, Stacy learned to fine tune her winemaking and blending craft. Her early years there served her well because in 2013, Stacy was promoted to Miner’s new winemaker, making her only the second winemaker in Miner Family history.
Today, in addition to spending much of her time at the Miner Family winery, Stacy stays busy running after her two young children, five-year-old son Kai and two-year-old daughter, Lilly. She is also finishing up an Executive Wine MBA through Sonoma State University.
“I’m really lucky to live in a place where I can be both mom and winemaker,” says Stacy. “It’s fascinating to be part of a community that is heavily focused on the wine industry and where everyone respects and learns from each other. At the end of the day, I know I’ve been successful if people are talking about the Miner Family wine they enjoyed with a delicious meal among friends and family. To me, that’s what it’s all about.” NVL
Miner Family Wines
7850 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558
(707) 945-1270 / www.minerwines.com