Meet Our Cider Maker
Wrangletown Cider Maker, Pat Knittel was born to be outdoors growing up in a small town outside of Eureka in Humboldt County, California - a beautiful coastal area situated between the Redwood District and the Six Rivers National Forest. Her father, a geologist, imparted a strong appreciation for the science of nature. She learned to have a critical eye for the influence of soils via the family vegetable garden.
Knittel went on to study vocal performance at San Francisco University, and then worked in banking for 10 years. All the while, she yearned for a vocation that would take her back to nature. In 2000 Knittel focused on winemaking – with particular attention to the Napa and Sonoma regions as her learning ground. Back to school at UC Davis and Napa Valley College, she took on dual positions at Silverado Vineyards in the tasting room and laboratory. From there, Knittel steadily refined her laboratory skills at a Ravenswood, taking advantage of 2 off-seasons to work the harvests in New Zealand to gain extensive experience in the cellar before becoming a cellar hand and ultimately the Enologist/Assistant Winemaker at Etude. It was at these two wineries – in very different climates - where Knittel focused on perfecting the art of producing Pinot Noir.
For eight years, Knittel worked with the highly regarded Pinot Noir consultant, Byron Kosuge and for Master Sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji for Miura Vineyards and David Family wines. She also has worked assisting on projects for Byron Kosuge Wines, Small Vines Wines, Pearl Morissette and McIntyre Vineyards. “I've been very fortunate to work with some of the best growers in California,” Knittel reflects. Those growers include some at the top of their game such as Burt Williams' vineyard in the Anderson Valley as well as Pisoni Vineyard and Garys' Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. “Spending time working in the vineyard throughout the season with growers at the top of their game is an enriching, educational experience, it is extremely important and informs your decision making once the fruit comes into the winery,” Knittel notes. “As a winemaker, I work with what is given by being flexible in my approach towards growing conditions, and at the winery. By avoiding a formulaic approach, I enjoy the process more and ultimately, produce a better wine.”
Knittel's approach to cider is informed by her strong background in producing fine wines. What the materials express will determine the approach to making the best cider or wine. Knittel also makes small lots of Pinot Noir, Carignane and Syrah for her label, North Story Wines which is located in Wrangletown Cider Company's facility.