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This simple decision, incredible luck, and her own tenacity sent her to Ventura County where she landed, without any experience, the holy grail of winemaking apprenticeships. Maggie worked for nine wonderful and life changing vintages under the tutelage of Elaine and Manfred Krankl at the iconic winery Sine Qua Non. In 2004, at Manfred’s urging, she started her own Syrah project called Lillian. At this point she could see the rest of her life unfolding clearly before her. She and her husband Michael would settle down in Santa Barbara and raise a family. She would tend to the barrels at Sine Qua Non and make tiny amounts of her own exquisite Syrah on the side. But her well-laid plans were not to be.
This all changed in 2005, when Scott Adelson, John Mavredakis and Michael Kramer, three friends on a search for land, visited Antica Terra. Over the years, they had collaborated on countless projects but had always dreamed of starting a vineyard together. This was not the first time they had visited a piece of land with this dream in mind, but something was different this time. It’s hard to say if it was the subtle breeze from the ocean, the majestic stands of oak, or the fossilized oysters hiding among the boulders, but they knew immediately that this was the property they had been looking for.
When Scott, John and Michael asked her to become the winemaker at Antica Terra, she emphatically refused. But the three friends were clever. They asked Maggie if she would simply take a look at the vineyard and offer her opinion about the qualities of the site. She reluctantly agreed. Twenty-six seconds after arriving among the oaks, fossils, and stunted vines, she found herself hunched beneath one of the trees, phone in hand, explaining to her husband that they would be moving to Oregon.
The inspired moment, the one that changed everything, occurred in the midst of a nervous breakdown, after a bout with malaria, on an island off the coast of Kenya. In this moment, facing her traveling companion’s request to “put down her beer and get serious,” doubting her ability to return to Chicago and begin her career in conflict resolution, Maggie Harrison decided to become a winemaker.
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