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Meet The Team That Handcrafts Biltmore Wines

All Things Biltmore • 02/24/22

Written By Jean Sexton

Meet the team that handcrafts Biltmore wines. With old-world skill and new-world passion for their craft, they’re taking Biltmore’s winemaking philosophy of creating approachable vintages and varietals to new heights in the industry.

Meet Sharon Fenchak, Biltmore Winemaker and Vice President

Sharon Fenchak, Biltmore Winemaker, with a syphon
Winemaker Sharon Fenchak draws wine from a barrel with a type of syphon called a wine thief in the Barrel Room at the Winery

Sharon Fenchak has served as Biltmore’s Winemaker and Vice President since 2018. In addition to handcrafting Biltmore’s award-winning wines, her responsibilities include oversight of Biltmore’s vineyard, partnerships with local and west coast partners, and the production team that creates more than 150,000 cases of wine annually.

After high school, Sharon joined the United States Army as a Communications Specialist. While stationed in Vicenza, Italy, she discovered a new appreciation and a growing passion for wine—particularly the sparkling moscato for which the region is noted.

Once she returned to the states, Sharon earned a bachelor’s degree in food science from Penn State University and a master’s degree in the same field from the University of Georgia at Athens. She worked as an assistant winemaker at Habersham Winery in Baldwin, Georgia, then became the winemaker for Chestnut Mountain Winery in Braselton, Georgia.

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak in the vineyard
In addition to her other winemaking responsibilities, Sharon oversees the estate’s vineyard

In 1999, Sharon joined Biltmore’s winery production team as assistant winemaker, learning from veteran French winemaker Bernard Delille and leading in-house research and development for new grape-growing technology and testing grape-production methods. Sharon and Bernard shared a philosophy of creating high-quality wines that reflect true varietal character while still being food-friendly and approachable.

Sharon was promoted to Winemaker in 2003 and continued handcrafting high-quality wines worthy of the finest Biltmore traditions of taste and style. When Bernard retired, Sharon became Biltmore’s Winemaker and Vice President.

Meet Shruthi Dhoopati, Assistant Winemaker

Assistant Winemaker Shruthi Dhoopati tasting white wine
Assistant Winemaker Shruthi Dhoopati tastes wine in the Barrel Room

In her role as Assistant Winemaker, Shruthi Dhoopati is involved in every aspect of creating Biltmore wines, from helping select grapes for production to assisting Sharon in the process of developing each varietal and blend from fermenting and aging to ensuring that wines are consistent from vintage to vintage.

Before joining the winemaking team at Biltmore, Shruthi served as Winemaker and Vineyard Manager
for Addison Farms in Leicester, North Carolina.

Biltmore wine team at work in the tank room
Sharon and Shruthi taste a white wine directly from the steel tank

Shruthi obtained a Master of Science degree in Viticulture and Enology through the Vinifera Euromaster program with courses at Montpellier SupAgro, Bordeaux Sciences Agro (ISVV), and Turin University in Piemonte, Italy.

She holds a joint degree between Montpellier SupAgro, Hochschule Geisenheim, Università Degli Studi di Udine, University of Lisbon, Madrid Polytechnic, and the University of Turin. Shruthi completed her thesis work on viticultural soils of foothills and mountain areas in North Carolina and northwestern Italy.

In addition, Shruthi completed internships with Denis Dubourdieu Estates in Barsac, France, Max Ferdinand Richter Estate in Germany’s Mosel Valley, Andrew Will in Vashon, Washington, and Montenidoli in San Gimingano, Italy.

Meet Ginolly Rodriguez-Brunkhorst, Lab Technician

Biltmore winemaking team
Ginolly Rodriguez analyzes different aspects of Biltmore wines for quality assurance while Sharon Fenchak and Shruthi Dhoopati sample others

In October 2020, Ginolly Rodriguez-Brunkhorst became Biltmore’s Winery Lab Technician. Her work focuses on quality assurance in the winemaking process, from the moment the grapes arrive until the finished wines are bottled and out in the market.

Ginolly’s day-to-day responsibilities include checking the wine in tanks and barrels, participating in completing different blends, wine tasting, and analyzing components of the process such as the sugar content (or Brix) of the grapes, residual sugar, alcohol by volume (ABV), titrable acidity (TA), and more.

Tools used by Biltlmore's wine team to test wines
Biltmore’s winemaking team uses tools ranging from measuring cups to beakers to wine glasses to analyze results

In 2018, Ginolly enrolled in the Brewing, Fermentation & Distillation program at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College. While enrolled, she worked at BearWaters Brewing in Canton, North Carolina, as an Assistant Brewer and Social Media Coordinator.

Prior to exploring her interest in the art of crafting different styles of fermented beverages, Ginolly earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Western Carolina University and worked in Health & Human Services. She is currently completing a graduate program at Queens University of Charlotte for a master’s degree in Communications.

Try Biltmore wines for yourself

Couple drinking Biltmore wine while they savor in place
Enjoy Biltmore wine on the estate and at home

If you’re visiting Biltmore, be sure to make a reservation for your complimentary tasting at the Winery in Antler Hill Village, or enjoy a glass of your favorite varietal or blend at the Wine Bar or other relaxing location.

You can also find our award-winning wines in most estate shops, or online at biltmoreshop.com.


Featured image: (L-R) Biltmore wine’s dream team: Ginolly Rodriguez-Brunkhorst, Sharon Fenchak, and Shruthi Dhoopati

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