A member of the Chumash indigenous community from the California coast, Gomez is the continent\u2019s first recognized Native American to make wine for her tribe from a vineyard it owns.\r\n\r\nShe followed a conventional path to the cellar, studying at Fresno State, interning at Fess Parker Winery and working for J. Lohr in Paso Robles for nine years before coming home to the Santa Ynez Valley to launch Kit\u00e1 Wines.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn a sense, it\u2019s like paying it forward,\u201d says Gomez. \u201cThey sent me off to college, and now I am back and sharing what I\u2019ve learned.\u201d\r\n\r\nWith her Catalonia-born wife, Mireia Taribo, Gomez also makes Gr\u00fcner Veltliner and cool-climate Syrah under a new brand called Camins 2 Dreams.\r\n\r\nWhy did you want to become a winemaker?\r\n\r\nI became a winemaker because of my love for science and also childhood memories of visiting wineries with my parents. I have vivid memories of the smell of the cellars and seeing the large stainless-steel tanks, and the labs caught my interest. As a child, I loved looking at nature through a microscope. That evolved into chemistry sets and, eventually, an interest in studying enology.\r\n\r\nDid you have any role models?\r\n\r\nMy role models, first and foremost, are my parents. They continue to set good examples for me to follow and keep me on the right path.\r\n\r\nAnother role model is Heidi P. Barrett, a winemaker and entrepreneur who has been responsible for some of California\u2019s most notable cult wines. She is someone I look up to, and she inspired me to want to be the best when it comes to winemaking.\r\n\r\nOutside of the wine industry, Irene Bedard, a Native American actress I grew up watching and actually got to meet a few times, is definitely someone I look up to and admire.\r\n\r\nWhat is your proudest achievement?\r\n\r\nMy proudest achievement was being the first Native American winemaker to be recognized by the California State Legislature, and our tribe, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, being recognized as the first Native American tribe to have a Native American winemaker, vineyard and winery run solely by our tribe.\r\n\r\nWhat was the most surprising experience or encounter you\u2019ve had as a female winemaker?\r\n\r\nBeing turned away from commercial wine buyers before they tasted the wine because of my connection to my tribe. They didn\u2019t judge me for what was inside the bottle, but rather the fact that a Native American tribe is behind the brand.\r\n\r\nI didn\u2019t think I would experience this type of prejudice in the wine industry as much as I do in my personal life, so it caught me by surprise. After the brand started getting recognition in the local community, I was brave enough to go back and give them a second chance at tasting our wines. But unfortunately, they still had their preconceived notions, so I moved on to less narrow-minded buyers.\r\n\r\nWhat is your advice to someone interested in entering the wine business?\r\n\r\nMy advice to others is to always stay open to learning, mentor others, taste often, travel abroad, believe in yourself and follow your instinct because the majority of the time, it will lead you in the right direction.