Kings & Queens of CRUSH! – Matchbook Wines

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September 4th, 2019

Kings & Queens of CRUSH!

by: Virginia Valdez Sandfer

Crush is in full swing! This harvest season we wanted to take time to shine light on some of our talented winemaking and vineyard team members. We would not be able to produce delicious, award-winning wines without these guys and gals! Everyone from intern to winemaker serve as an integral part of the process. This year we are honoring them as the Kings & Queens of CRUSH!

What is ‘Crush’? A term that loosely describes the entire harvest season. Crush begins when the grapes are picked and continues through processing and fermentation until the last wine is safely in barrel or tank. Check out our team in action on the first day of our 12th Annual CRUSH, click here to watch the video.


Mikayla Callen Ruvalcaba, Lab Director

Our recently married Lab Director, formerly Mikayla Callen, now Mrs. Ruvalcaba, is one of our Queens of Crush! You’ll find Mikayla in her lab running various tests and tastes of our wines. Pictured: Mikayla goes mad scientist on us and “inoculates a tank” of what will soon be Tinto Rey Rosé. With a cocktail of yeast Mikayla coerces our grape juice to turning into wine. We are so thankful for her and we literally could not produce wines without her.

Merlissa Gamino, Winemaker

Hooray for women in wine! Merlissa Gamino has been an important member of our team since 2015. Merlissa enjoys everything about wine from analyzing and manipulating the blends to the processing aromas and colors. Pictured: Merlissa checks and reviews our harvesting equipment with winery consultant, Ken Lazzaroni, to ensure everything is in order for the next harvest load of grapes. Thanks Merlissa for all you do!


Dan Cederquist, Head Winemaker

Our fearless leader, Dan Cederquist, guides our winemaking team into creating the delicious wines you taste in every bottle of Matchbook. Dan has been with Matchbook from the beginning and has tasted every barrel, created every blend and is the driving force behind the Matchbook style of wines. Dan’s stellar skills are responsible for creating the positively reviewed and awarded wines that you find in each bottle of The Arsonist, Matchbook, Tinto Rey, Mossback, Chasing Venus and Black’s Station.

Petro Gallo, Warehouse Supervisor

Longtime cellar crew member, Petro Gallo, keeps busy by managing the massive amounts of harvested grapes that come onto the crush pad. Petro can be found buzzing around the cellar, keeping everything in order and somehow, managing to do it with a friendly smile on his face. Pictured: Petro prepares for another 10 tons of Chardonnay to hit the hoppers.

José Cardenas, Cellar Supervisor

José Cardenas joined Matchbook this past February and has since made a great impact on our cellar team. In addition to his positive attitude and work ethic, José’s wit and humor make the work day even more enjoyable! Pictured: José changes out ball valves with butterfly valves on a wine tank.

Luc Mercado, UC Davis Chemistry Student & Winery Intern

Luc is in his senior year at UC Davis as a Chemistry student, which made him the perfect fit for our summer intern program. He ventured bravely out in to the vineyards early every morning with the company of rows and rows of grapes (and big spiders!) to collect samples and cluster counts to determine crop size. Pictured: Luc weighs and analyzes the sugar content of the grapes.

Greg Giguiere, Director of Vineyard Operations

Greg Giguiere leads our vineyard team on the farming side of the business. Greg can be found out in the vineyards surveying and constantly studying our soils, fruit and environment. In true farmer fashion, Greg is always experimenting with new processes and practices to better our fruit. Pictured: Greg works with his team to measure and analyze the sugar content in this season’s grapes.

Erick Canchola, Davis High School Student & Vineyard Intern

The vineyard team was very lucky to have a hardworking high school student on board over the summer. Erick helped Greg Giguiere and the vineyard team prepare for harvest through hands-on sugar sampling, cluster counts and various other tasks that are essential to our harvest season! We love piquing the interest of a new generation of winemakers. Pictured: Erick and vineyard crew members carefully weigh and measure the sugar content in this seasons grapes.