Robert Schermeister

Vintner and Winemaker, Schermeister Cellars

Robert Schermeister

There are so many wine options out there, and it feels great when my small winery gets into the hands of those coming to Napa to experience something special.

Be prepared to work a hundred times harder than you would in any other job.

How many years have you been in the Napa Valley wine industry?

12 years

How did you get started in the wine business?

After switching from engineering to enology in college, I landed a job as viticulturalist for Chateau St. Michelle. I then went on to learn my craft, native fermentation winemaking, as assistant winemaker for Mark Aubert. During my time at Aubert, I knew I wanted to produce my own label sooner rather than later.

Name a Napa Valley vintner who has influenced you and briefly explain why.

John Skupny of Lang and Reed has been a significant influence in my life as a winemaker. John, like me, started his winery as a solo winemaker and built a respectable business from the ground up. This is a high-pressure industry with constant competition to stand out, and John stands out as one of the most down to earth people I know. That attitude is something I also aspire to maintain.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?

It is the most rewarding when people light up after drinking my wine. There are so many options out there, and it feels great when a bottle from my small winery gets into the hands of those coming to Napa to experience something special. People are sometimes surprised that I can make great wine as a younger winemaker, so it is rewarding to know that my years working for cult producers are paying off.

If you weren't a Napa Valley vintner, what would you be doing?

I’d be a hair model.

What advice would you offer someone trying to get into the Napa Valley wine industry?

Be prepared to work a hundred times harder than you would in any other job. Learn to be a morning person, develop a love for getting dirty and get ready to experience some of the most beautiful sunrises, sunsets and rainbows you’ve ever seen in your life!

What's one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I am an avid skier! My dad spent most of his life competing on double black diamonds, so he naturally passed the skill on to me. Growing up in Idaho had its perks, and that’s where I learned to ski at three years old. A day spent skiing at Tahoe is an exhilarating break from the relaxing vibes of Napa, which makes me appreciate coming back home even more.