Marisa Sergi is a redhead with a fiery drive that matches her tresses. At only 20 years old she has already produced her own wine and stamped it with her unique brand of success.
Red Head wine is the creation of Marisa Sergi, a junior studying Viticulture & Enology at Cornell University. As her capstone project she decided to create a wine label classy but more appealing than traditional wine labels and test its appeal against already popular wines.
She didn’t stop there as she was able to continue and create the wine behind the label as well. It doesn’t hurt that winemaking is in her blood.
“As a third generation winemaker, I developed my passion for winemaking from my grandfather,” Marisa told Toledo Wines and Vines. “In my school days memory book in the fourth grade I wrote I wanted to be a winemaker. Making wine is a family tradition and I wanted to take part in that. It is a field that I am able to use my creativity.”
Her grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was 24 and brought the family tradition of winemaking with him. Her father opened L’uva Bella Winery in 2006 in Youngstown, Ohio.
“My grandfather shared his homemade wine with his friends and family,” the young winemaker said. “My father, Frank Sergi, took this to the next level by starting L’uva Bella Winery which influenced me to pursue a career as an enologist. I worked with the winemakers of L'uva Bella from learning the process of crush, testing procedures, designing the tastes, to marketing of the labels.”
Red Head wine, which has been one of the top sellers at L’uva Bella, is a blend of California Zinfandel and Chilean Carmenere. “After designing the label that was sexy with bold colors, I was looking for a concept that would match, she said. “It had to fit my model to be sweet and spicy.”
She describes the wine as medium bodied, fruit forward capturing hints of plums, black cherries and blackberries, but with a subtle spicy kick at the finish. She will be interning at E&J Gallo, one of the world’s largest wineries. She hopes to continue with them post-graduation and work not only as a winemaker but also in product development and marketing.
Marisa’s accomplishment is notable not only because of her age, but her gender. While many prominent women winemakers are out there, they are certainly outnumbered by men.
She has some advice for young people and for women who are interesting in breaking into the wine field. “Try to learn something new every day, build your knowledge of the industry, and follow your passion,” says the redheaded winemaker. “Hands on experience helps tie together book knowledge. If you enjoy what you are doing and have a will to work hard, you will be successful.”