Meet Our Winemakers: Part 2

At Shannon Ridge, we have a dynamic and talented female winemaking team. Our team is tasked with crafting wines for our entire family of wines, 15 wine brands in total.

Molly Wingo, our Associate Winemaker, is a vital part of the team with Joy Merrilees, Director of Winemaking & Production, and Anna Bassett, Assistant Winemaker. We sat down with Molly to hear more about her experience and what led her to her current role at Shannon Ridge.
1. Where were you raised?

I was born in Walnut Creek, California and grew up in Roseville, California. Since my early life was split evenly between those two places, I like to mention both.

2. When and how did you get into wine?

I became interested in the idea of winemaking while I was applying to college. My older brother told me about the winemaking program they had at his school and it sounded like a dream. I didn’t think I could get into where my brother went, which happened to be my dream school, so I decided to just apply and see what happened. Luck would have it, I got in!

3. Who has been your biggest inspiration in the wine industry?

This might be random, but I’ll go with Sir Graeme Avery. I’ve only met him a few times, but I worked as an intern at his family-owned winery in New Zealand for a couple of vintages. He’s a good example of the type of business leader that I would like to be. He’s always looking to the future and is active in his community.  It’s also nice to see that his sons are now taking on leadership roles at the winery.

4. What is it like being part of a female winemaking team?

Our team is small so that makes decisions a little easier. Also, we have been working together for many years, so we’ve got a good ebb and flow.

Shannon Ridge Female Winemaking Team5. Where have you worked before Shannon Ridge?

Before starting at Shannon Ridge, I worked throughout California; from El Dorado Hills all the way down to Paso Robles, as well as in the Central Valley and Anderson Valley. Abroad, I worked in New Zealand, Australia, and France.

6. What do you enjoy most about making wine?

I like that it’s challenging and never the same. There are so many things that can influence a wine, not only during the winemaking process but also out in the field and throughout aging as well. There are endless possibilities.

7. What is your general winemaking philosophy?

I like to be preemptive during harvest, but once the grapes are wine, I tend to be more laissez-faire.

8. What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker? How do you overcome that challenge?

I would have to say that the weather is probably the biggest challenge to each vintage. Watching the trends and knowing what tools you have available is a good start. Other than that, all you can do is roll with the punches.

9. What is your favorite varietal? To drink? To make?

I tend to go through phases with what I like to drink. A while back I was going through a Grenache phase, now I want to explore more Italian wines. I always like to try new varietals, but you gotta love the classics. As for making wines, I prefer to work with reds.

Bottle of HE Wrangler Red 201510. Favorite food and wine pairing?

I would have to say that I find myself always coming back to my favorite pairing of a good structured red wine with any kind of pizza.  

11. What are you most excited to do as winemaker at Shannon Ridge in the future? What’s your biggest goal in your winemaking career that you’re still trying to achieve?

We are working on some fun and exciting new labels, so just being able to explore and play with different styles for the new blends is exciting. Maybe one day I’ll come out with my own label.

12. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

I think I have had pretty normal jobs growing up; maybe the most peculiar would be that I was a synchronized swimming coach in high school for a year or so.

13. What are some ways you create a more sustainable lifestyle in your day-to-day winemaking?

In the cellar, we are always conscious of water usage as well as energy efficiency. There’s still a lot of research and trials being done to improve this aspect of the wine industry, so I always try to stay current with the new technologies being introduced.

14. What was your best day working at Shannon Ridge? What made it your favorite Shannon Ridge Winery memory?

I like the days when I get to interact with the consumer. Usually, it’s only for events, but I like getting out and listening to what people are saying.

15. What piece of advice would you give a woman at the start of her winemaking career?

One of my favorite mantras is a quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams: “Don’t panic.”

Winemaker Q&A

Shannon Ridge’s female winemaking team create all of Shannon Ridge Family of Wines brands.

Learn more about our Director of Winemaking & Production, Joy Merrilees, in part 1 of our series. And stay tuned for part 3 with about Anna Bassett, our Assistant Winemaker!

Learn More about Shannon Ridge Family of Wine   

Shannon Ridge Vigilance Tasting Room Trees in Foreground and BackgroundIndoor Shot Shannon Ridge Wine Company Tasting Room Wine Bottles in Background Counter in Foreground







Take in our spectacular panoramic vineyard vistas while enjoying one of our award-winning wines at one of our two tasting rooms. Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.