Sara Fowler joined Peju as the Winemaker in 2006, bringing a wealth of knowledge and creativity into the cellar. Her passion for farming developed as a young girl when she helped her family on their 400-acre organic ranch, which has been in her family in 1884. She got her start in the wine industry as a seasonal member of the Kendall-Jackson Winery staff during high school and college with mentoring from then Head Winemaker Jed Steele (Steele Wines), which laid a solid foundation and taught her key winemaking concepts. While she initially studied Art in college, Sara took a year hiatus from school and lived in Mexico on a sailboat where she reflected on a future career. When she moved back, Sara served as an Enologist Assistant during crush at Kendall-Jackson and attended Fresno State, where she doubled as a student and research assistant for the Viticulture Enology Research Center.
Upon completion of the program at Fresno State, Sara worked for seven years as the Associate Winemaker at Franciscan and Mt. Veeder Winery under Larry Levin, where she honed and perfected the craft. Through her tenure at Franciscan, Sara worked abroad during the 2002 harvest season in Chile for Veramonte. She also played a role in the terroir-driven Bordeaux blends of Quintessa and Estancia from 1999 to 2002, where she was able to utilize her talent for blending and creating Meritage wines.
As the keystone of Peju's wine team, Sara's commitment to excellence in the vineyard and in the cellar is extraordinary. In September 2007, Sara headed Peju's efforts to gain organic certification in the Rutherford Vineyard and she is overseeing the winery's sustainable farming efforts in the Persephone and Wappo Vineyards with organic certification goals in the near future. “Everything has to start in the vineyard. The vineyard is key. If you don’t have good grapes, then you’re not going to have good quality wine.”
Sara was voted Best Local Winemaker in Napa Valley Life Magazine in 2016 and 2017.