Meet the Maker with Cassandra Durst of Durst Winery

By Suzanne Ledbetter

Photo: Aly Montez

What’s your winemaking style?
I’m a fan of Old World European wines that are lower in alcohol and meant to be enjoyed with food. I try to make Durst wines in the same style. Winemaking is a perfect fit for me because it allows me the ability to create and experiment. As a boutique winery, we are always evolving with the opportunity to work with new grape varietals.

In the world of wine, who has influenced you most?
Hands down Robert Mondavi. I have read all his books and felt a powerful connection to his philosophy of food, wine, and cultural arts. He brought people into his winery and shared food and culture alongside his easy to drink everyday wines.

Do you have a favorite wine you’ve made?
I would have to say my Barbera. People really seem to love it and it goes well with so many foods. It’s a medium weight wine that pairs well with chicken, salads, and fish. Barbera is really underrated.

What’s one of the toughest things about winemaking?
Having patience. If you want complexity, you must give the wines time and that takes a considerable amount of patience.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
When our guests fall madly in love with their wine. I believe that women tend to be givers and I can’t think of a better gift to give someone than wine. I also love being able to embrace and share the wine country lifestyle with others. Our property and wines are so special that they need to be shared. We love it when guests visit from the city and can experience what it’s like to live in wine country while enjoying our outdoor space.

What do you admire most about Lodi wine, and why?
I admire the uniqueness of Lodi wine. Lodi has so many different varietals and landscapes, that when we come together we are like no other region. We are not Napa or Sonoma, nor are we trying to be. There is something in Lodi for everyone. If you love growing grapes, we have plenty of land. If you love making wine, everything you need is right here in our backyard. And if you just like drinking Lodi wine, we have over 90 wineries for you to try.

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