Sula Vineyards

Master Winemaker – Kerry Damskey

Kerry's winemaking philosophy is simple and straightforward: "It takes great grapes to make great wine. It's the winemaker's job to articulate a definable style for a wine but you don't create an identity - that comes from the grapes, and the grapes' identity is directly linked to where and how they are grown," he explains.

He likens his approach to that of a gem cutter. "You have to start with high quality raw materials, and be able to identify them. Then it’s like cutting facets in a diamond or emerald to show off what’s inside and highlight it."

By the time he was in high school, Kerry knew that he wanted to spend his life as a winemaker. Growing up in San Francisco, California, Kerry's visits with his family to winegrowing regions around the Bay Area whetted his thirst for the craft. His mother gifted him the classic winemaking text Table Wines: The Technology of their Production in California when he was a high school senior, and that was all it took. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in the enology and viticulture program at the University of California at Davis.

Four years later, degree in hand, Kerry set off to test his recently acquired skills in the winemaking world. He worked for wineries from Lodi to San Diego, honing his "nuts and bolts" knowledge of the industry. In 1986, he achieved his long-time goal of making wine in Sonoma County when he was appointed winemaker for the old Zellerbach Winery in Chalk Hill. Here, he established himself as one of Sonoma County’s best winemakers, winning awards for several of his wines.

A chance meeting with Rajeev Samant - a young, energetic Indian entrepreneur who had the crazy idea of setting up a winery in India - piqued Kerry’s interest.

"I wanted to find vineyard locations that yielded distinctive fruit, because that creates distinctive wines. And when you walk the Sula vineyards, you know that this is a singular location."

He has studied for the Master of Wine examination, a rigorous program. "I'm still a student," he says, "and I'm studying terroir, the ingredients that make a great wine. If you want to make singular wines, you never lose the passion that keeps you looking and learning more."

Kerry is currently the primary consultant for Sula Vineyards.