Brittany Sherwood

Brittany Sherwood

Heitz Cellar (Director of Winemaking)

Brittany Sherwood joined Heitz Wine Cellars in Napa Valley to work the 2012 harvest. This was immediately following her earning a B.S. degree in Viticulture & Enology from UC Davis. By mid-2013 she had been appointed as enologist and added associate winemaker to her responsibilities in 2016. She completed her meteoric rise to Director of Winemaking by 2018, at age 29!

Brittany is a strong advocate for the style of wine for which Heitz is noted, one that requires patience—fermentation in stainless steel, a year in large, neutral American oak casks, followed by three years in French oak barriques. Quoting her, “We’ve always been known for our classic, age-worthy wines,” she says. “Our balanced, lower-pH wines [meaning their acidity levels are higher] with extended aging in oak barrels make them stand out. There’s a purity, finesse, and elegance to a wine crafted with vineyard character preserved, and when it can spend five years in a combination of oak tanks, oak barrels, and bottle before it’s released.” Because the wines do not undergo malolactic fermentation—unusual for red wines—they maintain a sense of freshness as they age.

Brittany goes on to say, “Working for Heitz Cellar since 2012 has been a fast pace growth and learning experience, something that I was certainly looking for when I was getting started in the wine industry. The ability to work with organically grown fruit from Oak Knoll, Oakville, Rutherford, St Helena, Howell Mountain and Calistoga has provided a wealth of experience for crafting classically made wines from a range of AVA’s. Each season brings new learning experiences and the ability to see those vintage variations with each vineyard is what allows us to perfect our winemaking methods, always responding to what the vineyard brings us.

Heitz, a family-owned winery founded in 1961, was recently sold to another family. Under the new ownership, the plan is to decrease the production under the Heitz label by some 10,000 cases/year from the current 30,000–40,000 cases. This reflects the commitment of the new owner to invest in ever-better wines. As Brittany says, “New technology and equipment will give us the tools to keep an even closer eye on the wines as they’re produced, aged, and bottled—allowing us to react faster, make more informed decisions, and be even more detail-oriented. We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but doesn’t everyone like an upgrade?” She is optimistic about the changes. Again quoting her, “I’m beyond excited. A renewed emphasis on quality, access to incredible fruit, new technology and equipment make for one very happy winemaker!”

Heitz Wine Cellar's 2014 Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon received a coveted rating of 100 points from Wine Enthusiast. The wine was made by Brittany, alongside David Heitz, son of the late founder, Joe Heitz.