At their day jobs, television producers Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe are accustomed to auditioning budding stars on such shows as American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance? When their Paso Robles-based Villa San-Juliette Winery started its search for a new winemaker, they stuck with what works: an audition.
The new winemaker was recently announced as Matt Ortman. Matt was handpicked by Warwick and Lythgoe when a blind tasting of a dozen Cabernet Sauvignons resulted in Ortman’s two samples earning first and second place with both owners. “Matt has an excellent pedigree, he has a strong vision for where he can take our wines and facility, and we simply love his wines. He is the perfect fit,” said Lythgoe.
Ortman brings a strong winemaking background and broad range of experience with multiple wine varietals in appellations spanning throughout the Central Coast to Northern California, Oregon and Italy. The second generation winemaker’s background includes ten years with Ortman Family Vineyards as Winemaker and General Manager.
“Matt brings a sophistication and depth to our winemaking that will take us to the next level. Our goal is to make this property a must-stop Paso Robles destination for the wines as well as the experience at the Villa,” says President and COO, Hillary Trout.
“I am extremely excited to work with all eleven varieties in the estate vineyard and honored to become the newest member of the talented team in place at Villa San-Juliette. I look forward to outfitting the winery to be both innovative and capable of producing the finest wines possible as we expand on the Reserve tier of wines and build up the winemaking team to meet our growth demands. This is really a culmination of my experiences in a setting reminiscent of my first cellar job working in the cellars below a twelfth-century castle,” says a smiling Matt Ortman.