“An Alsatian Riesling was the first wine that I tasted where it made me differentiate more than just white or red wine,” says Anthony Sereni, new director of winemaking at Flâneur Wines in Carlton, Oregon.

Flâneur promoted Sereni earlier this month after two-plus years as assistant winemaker. He will now direct and oversee all winemaking operations at the 4,000 case-per year winery.

“The head winemaker role has more tendrils in different areas, and so, for me, I’m excited about that and excited to learn more,” Sereni says.

Sereni’s path to overseeing winemaking at Flâneur is a winding one. He grew up in Trenton, New Jersey in a family where wine was a relative rarity. In college at Drexel University in Philadelphia, he had friends in the restaurant industry who turned him on to wine.

“I became interested, but I never really thought of it as a career,” he says.

Sereni credits two seemingly disparate forces with leading to his professional involvement in the industry. The first was a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease at age 19.

“That got me really into food,” he says. “Being interested in food naturally made me interested in agriculture.”

The second, at first blush, seems even less related to the wine industry: a love of rollerblading. Sereni’s passion for the sport took him to New Zealand in the late aughts for their equivalent of the X-Games, called X-Air, in Wellington.

“I just fell in love with the country,” he says. Sereni subsequently returned to New Zealand for his honeymoon several years later. Still, working in the wine industry was far from his mind.

In the summer of 2010, Sereni and his wife moved from the east coast to Oregon looking for a change. Sereni taught yoga while his wife finished her master’s degree. Both wanted to learn more about agriculture. To do so, in 2011, they decided to return to the country that had inspired them.

“We just dropped everything and moved to New Zealand,” Sereni says.

The couple participated in the Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms (WWOOF) program. In exchange for working on a farm, they were given room and board. In search of paid work, the couple subsequently moved to Carrick Winery in Central Otago, where Sereni met winemaker Francis Hutt.

“He was my first mentor in the wine industry,” Sereni says.

After volunteering on farms in Thailand and Vietnam, the couple did another WWOOF stint in Spain in the summer and fall of 2011. They worked on two farms that produced microscopic amounts of wine, 2 barrels in one case and 10 in the other.

“I learned more about hands-on winemaking there, but on an incredibly small scale,” Sereni says.

In late 2011, the couple returned to the U.S. Sereni’s wife decided she was more interested in being a consumer of wine than working in the industry. Sereni, however, was now fully focused on winegrowing and making.

“I was hooked,” he says.

Wines from one area of the U.S. had always resonated with him: Oregon. A friend from New Zealand had a connection with Oregon winemaker Chris Mazepink, who at the time was working at Benton-Lane in Corvalis. Sereni worked at Benton-Lane as a harvest intern. After harvest, he stayed on to help with winter pruning. His time at the winery led to a major shift.

“When I was working in the vineyards, I saw behind the curtain at the winery, and thought I might fit in more there,” Sereni says.

Most urgently, however, Sereni needed a job. With Oregon State University (OSU) close by, he took a position in the university’s wine laboratory, taking classes on the side. When Mazepink moved to Archery Summit in Dayton, Oregon, Sereni followed as a harvest intern, commuting the hour-plus back and forth to Corvalis.

“I’d take classes on Tuesdays and Thursday, and work at Archery [Summit] every other day,” he says.

The classes evolved into enrolling in OSU’s enology master’s program in 2014. (Sereni’s thesis was on parameters affecting the mouthfeel of Chardonnay.) When he graduated in 2016, Sereni worked harvest at Ponzi Vineyards and then took a full-time job at Archery Summit.

Sereni started out as a cellar hand and then worked as a laboratory technician, initially under Mazepink and later with winemaker Ian Burch. Come 2022, when Grant Coulter at Flâneur was looking for an assistant winemaker, Sereni jumped at the opportunity.

Now as director of winemaking, Sereni will look to grow and further refine Flâneur’s wine program. The winery focuses on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wine from its two estate vineyards, La Belle Promenade in the Chehalem Mountains and Flanerie on Ribbon Ridge.

Going all the way back to the Alsatian Riesling that first caught his attention, Sereni has always gravitated toward white wines. That made Willamette Valley’s signature grape fit well for the style of wines he enjoys making and drinking.

“I’ve never been super huge into really big reds,” Sereni says. “If you’re mostly into white wines, what’s the red wine you’re going to gravitate towards? It’s Pinot [Noir].” He also has a passion for Chardonnay and sparkling wines.

In his spare time, Sereni, who is in his 40s, does sport rock climbing, trail running, and continues roller blading. He also paints and draws, seeing a connection there to his artistic expression through wine.

“I’ve always thought of myself a little bit more of an artist,” Sereni says. “I didn’t realize I was good at science until I went to grad school.”

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