By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor


Robin Epperson-McCarthy has been promoted to winemaker for Martha Clara Vineyards less than a year after being hired as assistant winemaker.

The previous winemaker, Juan Micieli-Martinez will continue to focus and expand his role as the winery's general manager while still acting as managing winemaker.

Epperson-McCarthy grew up on the North Fork, graduating from Mattituck high school in 1999, and though her wine journey took her far away from it, it seems as though she was always meant to return home — and to Martha Clara Vineyards.

"As long as I have been working in the wine industry I have been involved with Martha Clara," Epperson-McCarthy said in a recent email.  "Becoming a winemaker here seems inexorable to me. During my time as Laboratory Director at Premium Wine Group I spent a lot of time working with the Martha Clara Wines. As Juan and I set out on our own paths we became and stayed good friends."

When Micieli-Martinez left Shinn Estate Vineyards to become winemaker at Martha Clara, Epperson was still at Premium spending the majority of her time working with Martha Clara wines.

"I don't feel like there was ever a time when I did not know what was going on with the wines from Martha Clara Vineyards," she said.

Any new winemaker brings his or her own ideas, and changes, but Epperson isn't looking to make many. "I became assistant winemaker at Martha Clara because I like Juan's winemaking style and the wines that have been produced from this vineyard. Juan knows this vineyard while I have some new approaches to fermentation and aging that I learned while working overseas," she said.

I've had the pleasure of tasting and talking wine with Robin on a few occasions — and we've also had several Twitter and email exchanges — and I think she's going to be good for the wines at Martha Clara. She has all the technical prowess in the world, but I think what sets her part is her passionate curiosity. I look forward to watching how the wines change over time with her at the helm.