Many of our FRIAS fans have had the opportunity to meet the men of FRIAS, but have you had the pleasure of getting to know Susanne Madigan or Christina Machamer? These are the women at FRIAS – a dynamic duo and a force to be reckoned with. Their names may sound familiar if you’ve ever booked a tasting through Susanne or have inquired about the FRIAS Allocation with Christina. We recently had the opportunity to interview both women to get to know them a little bit better.
Let’s get started with your background.
SUSANNE: “I'm a Mom with five kids and two grown bonus kids. I have a little grandson in Texas, a white German Shepherd, a black cat, a chameleon, and fish. I am a California native from a large Spanish and Irish family, who lived nine years in rural Wisconsin. I've home-birthed, home-schooled, run small companies, and been a substitute teacher but mostly I love being with my children.”
CHRISTINA: “I have a background in culinary arts and strategic sales management. I have been consulting for FRIAS Family Vineyard for a little over two years, where I manage the FRIAS Allocation and Lady of the Dead clubs along with handling shipping and logistics for Manny and Fern.”
How did you get started in the wine industry?
SUSANNE: “When I returned to Napa in 2012, I took a job with Napa Chamber of Commerce, where I met a lot of community and industry members and was contacted one day by the infamous John Caldwell. I was the COO for Caldwell Vineyard for about three years and then I moved on to FRIAS Family.”
CHRISTINA: “I was a chef in Los Angeles working for a notable restaurant—meaning I was cooking awesome food but making next to nothing while simultaneously working through the Court of Master Sommeliers program becoming a Certified Sommelier. I had the opportunity to move to the Napa Valley and manage a small brand as they transitioned to having their first physical tasting room, and then as they purchased and built their winery facility in Oakville.”
Fun fact: Christina won the fourth season of Fox Network's reality cooking show Hell's Kitchen. Pretty impressive if you ask us!
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
SUSANNE: “Most rewarding thing about working with FRIAS is helping the family strengthen their business. We’ve done a lot in two years. I really enjoy visiting with clients too—there’s an authentic connection and loyalty that goes both ways, and that’s pretty rare. After a day of crunching numbers it's very satisfying to speak with a client and set them up with the wines they are excited about—it makes me smile.”
CHRISTINA: “I am extremely competitive by nature, so I find it rewarding when we meet company goals.”
What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?
SUSANNE: “Whatever we’re tasting right now. I love cooking by request—seeing the meal take shape, pairing it well with the right music, and an adult beverage, then sitting around enjoying our family time together.”
Match each FRIAS wine with a celebrity and why?
SUSANNE: “I love this question. Now I’m going to create a dish for each Wine Celeb and then watch one of their movies.”
CHRISTINA: “I am not good with celebrities. Seriously, when I watch a movie with my husband he will say “Is that so and so from Blah Blah?” and I have no idea.”
SUSANNE: “Definitely Gary Sinise… mighty fellow… been around 40+ years… an understated super-star…consistent over time.”
CHRISTINA: “Robin, since it’s the sidekick to the RESERVA.”
SUSANNE: “Clint Eastwood. Strong presence, lasting impression, and solid hero.”
CHRISTINA: “Batman… strong, dominant, and the leader.”
SUSANNE: “Sophia Loren comes to mind right away. Beautiful, sexy, full-bodied, timeless.”
CHRISTINA: “The Penguin. Prado is a bit more austere and starting with the letter P.”
SUSANNE: “Andy García IS Block Five. Do I need to say something more? Okay: Warm money.”
CHRISTINA: “The Joker. Being more opulent.”
SUSANNE: “Audrey Hepburn. Classic elegance.”
CHRISTINA: “Harley Quinn. Matches her hair color.”
SUSANNE: “Amy Adams—bright, crisp, refreshing. (or, my white German Shepherd, Argos. I think he could also be Sauvignon Blanc).”
CHRISTINA: “Poison Ivy. She wears green and sometimes you can get pyrazine notes in the Sauvignon Blanc, which I associate with the color green.”
Lady of the Dead
SUSANNE: “Catherine Zeta-Jones to a tee.”
CHRISTINA: “Catwoman. Strong and independent.”
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
SUSANNE: “Gardening—as with everything else, I learn by doing. We have a little yard, but we’ve got food growing wherever I can fit a plant. I also love cooking, caring for our pets, camping, repurposing projects, sewing, and family game night.”
CHRISTINA: “I have a 16-month-old son, so my favorite hobbies are chasing him around and cleaning the house. In my single life, I was a passport stamp collector, scuba diver, and lionfish hunter. We look forward to safe travels in the future with a first stop in Belize.”
Pick a FRIAS wine and music pairing...ready...set...go!
SUSANNE: “Easy—PRADO and Ottmar Liebert.”
CHRISTINA: “I like the 2017 SMD with True Crime Garage. While technically that is a podcast, filled with sarcastic asides from the “Captain,” they do have an eerie soundtrack similar to the old Unsolved Mysteries intro music. That said, maybe Lady of the Dead is a better choice.”
If you were stranded on a deserted island which FRIAS team member would you bring along and why?
SUSANNE: “Definitely want to be stranded with Christina. We’ve worked together at two wineries now and we know how to stay out of each other’s way. Yes, she’s a Wine Club expert, but she’s also a somm, chef, wonderful mother, and has a level head. If we do get stranded on that island, it will be the most successful island imaginable, with really good food.”
CHRISTINA: “Stranded on a desert island, my team member choice would be based on my motivation. Do I want to get off the island? If so, I am taking Susanne because she gets things done. Do I want to stay on the island? If so, then I am bringing Manny to keep me entertained.”
If you could give FRIAS fans one piece of advice what would it be?
SUSANNE: “Always take delivery on the first attempt! Buy big bottles when you can! Be kind; work hard!”
CHRISTINA: “Since seeing guests in person has been a challenge in 2020, we’ve invested a lot in shipping promos. Take advantage now—because once Fern and Manny see the bill, the fun will be over!”
Any other fun facts we should know about you?
SUSANNE: “I love how wine is an integral part of life; little snacks, Sunday brunch, big family dinners, feet up, alone. Sad times, happy times; celebrations, and sacraments. Wine industry people—we get to be a tiny part of all of these things with you, just by doing our jobs. That’s pretty neat.”
As you can see, these two women have personalities, a strong work ethic, and a passion for what they do. Without each and every team member, we wouldn’t be the FRIAS brand we are today. Don’t worry boys...we’ll get to you soon. Stay tuned!