Clarissa Nagy

Clarissa Nagy

Nagy Wines (Winemaker & Owner)

Riverbench Winery and Vineyard (Winemaker)

Clarissa Nagy grew up in Southern California in a family in which organic food and the minimal use of preservatives was “a family motto,” according to Clarissa. In 1995, she earned a degree in Food Science from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Sensory science and organic, no preservative, foods were her focus. Clarissa embarked on her career in winemaking that same year.

She fell in love with wine soon after graduation while working in the cellar and as laboratory technician at Edna Valley Vineyards in San Luis Obispo. Clarissa subsequently held positions of research assistant winemaker at Byron Winery, assistant winemaker at Firestone Vineyards, and assistant winemaker and vineyard supervisor at Longoria Winery, all of which are in Los Olivos.

From 2006 to 2011, she was the winemaker at Bonaccorsi Wine Company, where she specialized in producing Pinot Noir and Syrah. Clarissa was appointed as the winemaker at Riverbench Winery in December 2011. She described her new position as follows: "I am drawn to the attention to detail and quality at Riverbench - the vineyards are meticulously kept. Riverbench has the wonderful combination of vine age for the original plantings and clonal variations in the new plantings. I really enjoy seeing how each vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley is unique. I look forward to getting my hands on the fruit!" Riverbench focuses on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals.

Clarissa is known for her elegant and sophisticated winemaking style and for her appreciation of fruit that comes from the Santa Maria Valley. This is the fruit that comprises the Viognier, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and other wines that she produces under her own label, Nagy Wines, established in 2005.

Clarissa has some two decades of experience in the wine industry. She feels blessed to have had inspiring and supportive colleagues and mentors in the Santa Maria area, including Alison Green-Doran at Firestone and Rick Longoria at Longoria Winery early in her career.

She, her husband, also a winemaker, and their daughter, live in Orcutt. As a winemaking couple, they constantly are striving to balance their time between family and their roles as winemakers.