Founder + Winemaker
In a magical moment surrounded by new friends sipping great wines of Germany – IN Germany – Rob knew his life was about to change forever. It was 2005 and he was in the midst of finishing a degree in Biochemistry at the University of Idaho. His path surely would have led to something in livestock or potatoes, but the universe had different plans. A vacation in Europe was now a pivotal point in the life decisions of a 23-year-old searching for something more in life, so Rob decided that he would put his passion for science and nature to good use. He was going to make wine and it was going to be amazing. Having grown up backpacking the Wind Rivers and backcountry of Idaho, Rob felt a deep connection to the workings of the earth and uses that passion to make something for people to enjoy – something that is massively satisfying for his soul and can be sensed in every vintage he makes.
When Rob knew he was going to make wine, he also knew he had to learn from the best. Working as assistant winemaker to cult greats Mark Aubert and Jayson Pahlmeyer, Rob perfected his native fermentation techniques and was ready to set off on his own. Further winemaking experience in Washington, Australia, and New Zealand positioned him to begin working on his own label. Schermeister Cellars, born in 2012, is the culmination of years of experience with the dream of one day running his own show. Rob is happy to say he is finally doing just that.
Rob’s “Aha!” Wine
“I only get one? I have a lot of favorite dry Rieslings from Alsace and almost anything from the Burgundy region. But the one wine that really opened my eyes was a 1982 Robert Mondavi Private Reserve that I had celebrating my 22nd birthday. The wine had a beautiful aged bouquet. It was smooth, soft, and silky and unlike anything I had ever tasted. There I was, tasting a wine made when I was born which brought all of my lifetime into focus. How could a wine, something that someone created for consumption, last so long and age so well? It was growing and improving with time, much like myself.
Co-owner + Everything Creative
Laura’s life in Napa could be described as a happy accident. In 2013, after a 9-year career in graphic design, she sold her home in Charlotte, NC and came to Napa for a much needed break to reconnect with nature. What was supposed to be a 6-week harvest job turned into an extended stay when she met Rob. He needed a website design for his new winery, Schermeister Cellars. Laura never expected to stay past October, and certainly never expected to meet the person who would become much more than a business partner – but her partner in life!
Laura continues to put her creative skills to work for the winery. She’s in charge of all things design and marketing, using her experience collaborating with big brands like Nike, Lay’s, and Google to tell a more intimate story of how and why we make our wines.
Laura’s “Aha!” Wine
A 2004 Priorat wine from a tiny winery called Celler Cal Pla. I ordered this vintage randomly at a wine bar in Charlotte. I liked the name but was really blown away by the aroma even before I tasted it. Priorat wines have a unique smell that most describe as minerals with lots of juicy dark berries. The profile is completely unique and has a certain “je ne sais quoi”. You’ll know it when you experience it! That one glass of wine really awakened my senses and helped me to differentiate between all the wines I have enjoyed after that moment.
Kiddo the Wine Cat
In Loving Memory
If there wasn’t already a famous Grumpy Cat, our cat Kiddo would have taken that crown easily. She was a typical Calico – moody, solitary, and like most cats, seeking affection on her own terms. Laura adopted Kiddo, then a rescue, at the vet in 2006. It took Kiddo several years to open up to her new life, so we were surprised when she took to Rob immediately upon meeting him in 2014. She gave him lots of love and would always brush against his legs and look up to him for pets. That’s how Laura knew Rob was one of the good ones.
Kiddo hated being picked up but tolerated it from us both since we hoped it would help with her socialization. Her fur was the softest you’ve ever felt and her stare could pierce the soul. She’d spend hours in the office with Rob while he prepped wine club shipments, and made for a great supervisor as he hand-bottled the Rosé wines while she looked on.
At home, she’d always jump up for a good cuddle when Laura would lounge on the couch for Netflix and chill. Her most snuggly moments were during the wind and rain storms in our cabin on Mount Veeder, and Laura secretly enjoyed those moments even though Kiddo was probably terrified.
Kiddo’s favorite past times included snacking on catnip, hunting her toy “mouse mouse”, sniffing the breeze as it blew through the windows, and sitting on our laps a total of about 8 times in her 15 years of life. We miss you, Kiddo, and will always love you.
As a small family winery, we only produce around 600 cases per year. What that means for the people who love our wine is that they will only be able to access our vintages directly from us. Among the many reasons for staying small is the ability to keep making wines by fermenting the fruit using only the yeasts that are already in the vineyard. This is the most crucial part of our process and our wine wouldn’t be nearly as unique and delicious if we did it any other way. Native fermentation is hard. It is risky, often difficult to control, and can yield some unexpected results along the path to making our wines. Thanks to Rob’s science background and his creativity in the cellar, we always overcome these challenges to make wine that tastes better than a lot of others you’ve had. Not one of our wines is the same as the next.