A conversation with Greg La Follette

POSTED ON July 30, 2013 | IN Winemaker | BY joe

La Follette wines

La Follette wines

Greg La Follette is one of the world’s most esteemed winemakers. He has mentored many winemakers, and his winemaking skills and expertise have been highly sought after. Case in point, the day before meeting Greg we were visiting the acclaimed Medlock Ames winery on Bell Mountain in the Alexander Valley. It turns out the Greg La Follette got this winery started back in 2002. He is perhaps most noted for his work at the Flowers Vineyard and Winery, which today is noted worldwide for its Pinot Noir. Yes, Greg La Follette is a man on a mission to make the very best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that he can possibly muster from vines that he sources in Sonoma County.

We met with Greg La Follette at his newly-opened tasting room at The Barlow in Sebastopol. The Barlow is a classy spot of artisan tasting rooms, breweries, and food purveyors. The Barlow was once an apple processing plant back in the day when the Russian River Valley wine region was largely apple orchards.

We tasted through the current releases of La Follette Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Greg La Follette spoke almost with reverence about each wine and how it was made. He talked about the differences in vintages and how he tended to the vines differently. The old adage, “Good wine is made in the vineyards,” is one often battered about but perhaps not often followed. But in the case of Greg La Follette, we can be sure that this is his guiding winemaking principle. He does not own any vineyards, but all the vines are managed to his specifications. Often he takes his family and friends out to the vineyards to do leaf management to make sure the vines can produce the finest in berries, given the various climate conditions. With his degrees in plant biology and chemistry, he works his magic in the vineyards to produce wines of great character and substance. He has 30 years of wine making experience and has worked some 60 vintages, having traveled to both ends of the planet. The experiences of these many vintages enable him to make intuitive judgments as the vines develop to maturity.

We enjoyed all the La Follette wines we tried. They are complete wines from start to finish and ones to be enjoyed with good food, family and friends. In this is short video, you get a glimpse of the respect that Greg La Follette has for the land and of his passion for making Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

If you are a fan of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, put La Follette wines on your list and visit The Barlow. The Barlow is a fantastic place for the wine and food traveler. By this September, all the tenants should be in place. In addition to the La Follette tasting room, several other wineries have opened or will soon open tasting rooms. These include Kosta Browne, Miramar Torres and MacPhail Family Wines. The famed Zazu restaurant will soon locate to The Barlow.

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