In 2023, Uplift Vineyard near Burnet became one of the new tasting rooms in the Hill Country. Not only is the vineyard beautiful and the experience is top-notch, but the wines are well worth the drive. The young and dynamic winemaker, Claire Richardson, is holding the reins to create small-batch wines available only at the tasting room. Take a minute to get to know Claire and read about challenges, loving what you do, and a nearly perfect food and wine pairing.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker?
Before becoming a winemaker, I was a student at Texas A&M. I earned my degree in Food Science and Technology with a minor in Horticulture.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
One of the biggest challenges of making wine in Texas is the weather. High heat, freezes, hailstorms, humidity – you name it – somehow it seems that all of those things can also happen in one year!
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Definitely both. I love the science-y part of it and using numbers as a way to guide me throughout the process, but taste ultimately wins in a blending session. I equally love to embrace the artistic side of winemaking through creativity, using different fermentation and aging techniques, and bringing wines to life that start out as ideas in my head.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Wine and potato chips! Potato chips are perfectly crispy, salty, and fatty to pair with any wine. It’s fun to play around with the different flavors of potato chips with different types of wine.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
If I didn’t make wine, I would be a therapist. That was a career that I wanted since I was in 8th grade. Just before I started college, I decided to change my major.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
I think for me, it was a combination of things. From an early age, I knew that I never wanted to have a desk job. I could never picture that for myself. Through my studies in Food Science, I became very interested in fermentation and then began exploring possible career paths in that realm. Winemaking stood out to me for the fact that I could be hands-on, creative, incorporate my love of science, and that I would be able to produce something that I could share with others. Some of my best memories are with family and friends over a meal and wine. I love that I get to make something that is shared with other people and their friends and families, making memories and enjoying good food and wine in a similar way. In addition, I decided early on that I would choose a career in something that I truly loved. As a student, I feared ending up in a job where I would dread getting up and going to work every day. My other requirement for a career was to be in a position where I would never stop learning. Winemaking surely has fulfilled both of those requirements for me.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
How many bottles of wine are in a barrel? (It’s nearly 300!)
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Cook a good meal and relax!
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
There are a lot of those. I love the community that I have within the wine industry, I love getting to share my work with others, I love getting to teach people about wine, and I love the challenges that come with winemaking.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
My goal with winemaking is to create a product that is the best representation of the land that the fruit comes from. For me, winemaking is storytelling…about the land, the weather patterns of the vintage, the hurdles you encountered that year, and the person who made it.
- Anything else you would like to add?
I’m thankful that, as a young winemaker, I have the opportunity to grow up with the Texas wine industry as it grows. A lot has happened since I started, and there is so much more to be done here. We definitely have a bright future ahead of us.