Pam Starr has been Adastra’s winemaking consultant since 1997. She seeks to create wines that express Adastra’s unique terroir: the combination of soil, grape and mesoclimate found in the vineyard.
To preserve the vineyard character, Pam tries as much as possible to let the wine make itself, harvesting ripe grapes then minimizing manipulation and maximizing flavor development, monitoring carefully to ensure optimal results.
Oak barrels are used judiciously to complement and accentuate flavors, rather than to mask them.
The wine thus becomes a showcase for the grape and the vineyard, something beautiful and unique.
Following a childhood that included an above average interest in tastes and smells (she once organized a spice tasting based on the contents of her mother’s kitchen cabinet), Pam went to UC Davis.
She graduated in 1984 with a degree in Fermentation Science. However, the wines she’d sampled on her undergraduate budget didn’t really impress her. She was thus contemplating a career in dentistry when she took an internship at Sonoma-Cutrer. This proved to be a life-changing experience.
Four months later, she abandoned plans for dental school and went to work at Edna Valley Vineyards. From there, she moved on to Carmenet and after seven years there, accepted the position of winemaker at Spottswoode.
In 1997, having amassed a wealth of experience and accolades working for others, Pam set out on her own as a consultant. That year, on the recommendation of mutual acquaintance Tony Soter of Etude Wines, Adastra interviewed her; her talent, philosophy and last name seemed to constitute a celestial match. We have been working together ever since.
In addition for consulting for a number of other top wineries, Pam has her own label, Crocker and Starr, a partnership with the Crocker Vineyard, also formed in 1997.
Photo by Celeste Langstaff
Adastra winemaker Pam Starr watches as the grapes come in.
Pam addresses Adastra wine club members at the annual picnic.