Martin (pronounced Marteen) Santamaria is the winemaker and co-owner of Santamaria Cellars located in Fredericksburg. He was born in Mendoza, Argentina, and moved to the United States in 2000. Martin founded Santamaria Cellars in 2005. We asked Martin Santamaria about his winemaking philosophy and background.
What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I grew up in Mendoza, Argentina, so my passion before wine was playing rugby. I played for 27 years and at the same time I was studying at the National University of Mendoza (University Nacional of Cuyo). Around the age of 24, I became extremely interested in the art of winemaking. I acquired my Agricultural Engineering Degree from Mendoza while working at different wineries making wines. After graduating from the University, I went to Italy and studied a year there and received my Masters degree. I worked for Terraza de los Andes Winery for a season, and then I came to the States.
What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
The toughest part is the quality of the grapes here are still developing and it makes it difficult to find the proper varietal that fits the style each winemaker is wanting to accomplish in their own wines.
Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
I would have to say it’s both. One needs something from the other and vice versa. It is truly an art, however without the proper knowledge of chemistry, the art doesn’t transpire in the way it should.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Since I am from Argentina, I love Malbecs paired with an amazing steak, made the Argentinean way of course.
If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I would be a grape grower and apply my knowledge that I learned in Argentina and Italy. The physiology of the vine is extremely interesting.
What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
The wine is like a relationship with a person. It’s constantly demanding attention and that was my biggest attraction; how I could take something and turn it into its own unique personality. I have been making wine for 15 years now in the States.
What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
I am constantly asked 2 questions: one being how do I develop such unique flavors in my wines and of course, how did you end up in Texas.
After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
My favorite thing to do is sit on my patio with my wife, have a good glass of wine, and enjoy the view that we have been blessed with.
What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
I would have to say that the style I have created is uniquely my own and is very much Argentinean style, and I am happy to share that with customers and be able to promote my heritage and passion.
What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
I want to portray each glass of wine as a picture in which you can talk about it forever. You can sit back and enjoy the flavor, you are stimulated visually, and you never get bored drinking or talking about it.