Alumni Profile: Tamra (Tami) Lotz

Tami Lotz

Year and degree of graduation
2002 - Bachelor of Science, Viticulture and Enology 

Current job title/company: 
Winemaker, Mumm Napa 

What have you been up to since you graduated?  
I interned at Mumm Napa just after graduation in 2002.  I then spent some time overseas, thanks to a generous scholarship from the International Wine and Food Society. This scholarship allowed me to work a harvest in Germany, travel through Australia, and work a harvest in Chile.  While in Chile, an Enologist job opened at Mumm Napa, and I was hired to start when I returned. I’ve been at the winery for a wonderful 20 years now, working my way up to Winemaker.  

Do you feel your UC Davis experience benefited your career?  
My studies at UC Davis gave me a science background that has helped me so many times in my career, from basic decision-making to more complex problem-solving.  Understanding why and how juices, wines, and yeast behave the way they do has guided me in my everyday work, complementing the creative decisions that I make.  My UC Davis experience was also instrumental from a networking standpoint.  In a small industry such as ours, connections are incredibly valuable.  

What is the most rewarding part of being in the industry/your job?  

The most rewarding part of winemaking is seeing someone appreciate a glass of wine that I’ve made. It’s nice to have a job with such an enjoyable end product! 
What are some of the most difficult challenges you have faced in the grape or wine industry?  
Climate change has brought more frequent challenges to the growing season. Heat spikes, drought, and wildfires have affected everything from picking decisions to wine styles. We’re always learning how best to respond to these challenges. 

Is there anything you would like to share with current UCD V&E students?  
All of the coursework you are completing now will pay enormous dividends in your career.  It will come back to you at random times when a problem presents itself or when you realize you know exactly how to handle a situation.  Use science as your guide, be creative, have fun, and enjoy responsibly. 

How has the pandemic affected you?  
As an extrovert, having so much of the world shut down was difficult for me. I’m grateful to have such a wonderful family and for all the Zoom happy hours with friends. From a professional standpoint, people were enjoying a lot of sparkling wine at home, which kept us very busy at the winery. 

What is one unique thing about you?  
I enjoy fermenting more than just wine. Hard cider, sauerkraut, and ginger beer are some of my favorite home projects.