Ann Raffetto – Winemaker Emeritus
Ann Raffetto was the winemaker at Wagner since almost the very first vintage until her retirement in early 2019. Interestingly enough, when she began attending the University of California, Davis in 1977, she had no idea that she would graduate with a degree in Enology (winemaking). It was an “Intro to Winemaking” course that lead Ann to her “aha!” moment of realizing she wanted to make wine for a living. Ann loved science, which is why she chose UC Davis, but art was also very important to her. The introductory course showed her that winemaking was the best of both worlds: it used scientific principles to make something artistic.
After graduating from UC Davis, Ann and her husband moved to the Finger Lakes for an adventure in a wine-producing region drastically different than that of her native land, California. At that time there were only about seven wineries in the Finger Lakes region and Ann visited each one in hopes of finding work. In 1983 she accepted a winemaking position here at Wagner with co-winemaker, John Herbert. The two of them worked side by side at Wagner Vineyards until 2013, when John retired.
Ann’s years of experience working with the grapes from the Wagner Estate farm has allowed her to develop a real knowledge and understanding of how each different variety behaves and develops, given the season’s growing conditions. Ann is able to react quickly in any given situation and loves that each vintage brings her new challenges. She develops the wines by evaluating and working with what nature has given her.
As in all scientific equations, there is a constant and a variable. In the winemaking equation, Ann views the grower as the constant and the winemaker is the variable; she is always looking for ways to tweak the wines and continually improve their quality year after year. For Ann, the most rewarding part of her job is being in a restaurant or wine shop and witnessing people enjoying the work of art she has created.