In the winery, Heidi and Steve are constantly refining their techniques as winemakers. By challenging and inspiring each other, they are making the best wines in MacRostie’s history.
In 2013, at the age of 29, rising star Heidi Bridenhagen was named just the third winemaker in the storied history of MacRostie Winery and Vineyards. Heidi quickly set out to build on MacRostie’s reputation as one California’s most revered producers of cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “Carrying on the traditions of an iconic winery, while helping to chart the course for its future, is an undertaking that requires respect, thoughtfulness and vision,” says Heidi. “When I was named winemaker, I embraced the opportunity both to learn and lead. Like Steve MacRostie, who I am proud to call a friend and mentor, I strive to bring inquisitiveness, and an absolute attention to the details that are essential for great winemaking to my role.”
Heidi immediately worked to establish one of the Sonoma Coast’s most acclaimed vineyard programs, including sites farmed by legendary winegrowers like the Duttons, Sangiacomos and Martinellis. She also completely reimagined MacRostie’s Pinot Noir program, helping to design a new small-lot Pinot Noir winery that has elevated MacRostie’s Pinots to the world-class levels of its iconic Chardonnays. To achieve this, Heidi switched to small 1-ton fermentation bins, and does as many as 130 fermentations every vintage to preserve the character of each lot. Heidi also launched the winery’s acclaimed sparkling wine program, and established Clockwise, where Heidi and her team can apply the techniques and traditions of MacRostie to new wine regions and varietals, including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.
“At MacRostie, I’ve found a winemaking home that embraces my desire to innovate. I am constantly running numerous small-lot trials in areas that include extraction levels, whole clusters, tannin management, cold soak durations, yeast strains, barrel versus tank fermentation, and more.” Heidi is equally active in the vineyards, working with MacRostie’s grower partners to tailor farming techniques, including pruning, fruit drops and harvest decisions for each block.
Since Heidi was named winemaker, MacRostie has been recognized for making many of the finest wines in its history, and has earned more than 300 scores of 90 points or higher from major publications, while also being honored by San Francisco Magazine as “Best Overall Winery” in the 2017 Best of Wine Country Awards. In addition, Heidi spearheads MacRostie’s sustainability efforts, establishing it as one of less than 150 wineries in California (out of more than 5,000) to hold the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing accreditation.
Heidi’s approach to winemaking is shaped by her unique background, which includes earning a degree in biochemistry, traveling throughout the wine regions of France, Italy, Spain and Germany, working in the cellar at Oyster Bay in New Zealand, and honing her craft alongside renowned winemakers Mick Schroeter and Cara Morrison at Sonoma-Cutrer. Prior to being named winemaker, Heidi spent two years as MacRostie’s assistant winemaker, where she worked side-by-side with Founder Steve MacRostie. This diversity of experience has played a pivotal role in creating MacRostie’s expanded lineup of vineyard-designate Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. While these wines are deeply rooted in the vineyards they come from, they also reflect MacRostie’s signature style, offering beautiful balance, vibrant flavors and impeccable structure.
At MacRostie, we work with a who’s who of the finest winegrowing sites, including more than 30 Chardonnay vineyards and over 15 Pinot Noir sites. This remarkable level of diversity allows us to explore the entirety of the Sonoma Coast, from the vibrant purity of Wildcat Mountain Vineyard to the lushness of the Russian River Valley to the nerve and ethereal aromatics of the extreme Sonoma Coast. To preserve this diversity, in the winery Steve and Heidi do as many as 130 small fermentations each vintage. While this is an incredible amount of work, when it comes time for blending, it gives us an amazing palette of flavors to work with, yielding wines of uncommon character and complexity.