Winemaker Greg La Follette
At La Follette, we believe that science … when coupled with passion … can produce extraordinary art. Greg La Follette’s career is an excellent illustration of this. One of California’s most accomplished winemakers, La Follette has delved far more deeply than most into the science behind the art of winemaking. He also fosters a fervent fascination with old world winemaking techniques. Both have fueled Greg’s intense interest in the texture and mouth feel of wine, and, not surprisingly, leave an indelible mark on the wines he creates.
Greg La Follette’s Complete Biography
Greg’s route to winemaking began inauspiciously when he realized that his first love – playing the bagpipes – was simply not a practical career path. He earned a double BA in Plant Biology and Chemistry from California State University, Northridge, then a Masters in Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. It was at Davis that he became fascinated with the scientific components of mouth feel. As it turns out, his particular interest in the Burgundian techniques of sur lie aging and battonage emerged on the crest of a tidal wave of interest in new production techniques in California. His studies, funded by the Napa Valley Vintners Association, gained the attention of winemaking icons such as Dick Graff, and paved the way for Greg’s future success.
In 1991, Greg left Davis for Beaulieu Vineyards, where he was the research viticulturist /enologist for famed master winemaker André Tchelistcheff. He travelled to Australia, working on Chardonnay for Yarra Ridge, then returned to Napa Valley to work for Jarvis and then again at BV. He consulted for Kendall-Jackson, and was on his way to becoming a top Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producer when he joined Flowers Vineyards & Winery in 1996 as head winemaker and general manager. The winery he built at Flowers during his tenure is still considered one of the best gravity-flow, gas-assist green wineries in the world.
In 2001 he founded Tandem wines to produce small-lot Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. He has also consulted on vineyard and winery projects around the world, including the new UC Davis teaching winery. In 2009, Greg met Pete Kight – Proprietor of Quivira Vineyards & Winery in Dry Creek Valley – and saw an opportunity to partner, enabling him to have more time to focus on winemaking. Tandem was renamed La Follette, and Greg continued on as Winemaker of the new winery.
La Follette wines showcase not only Greg’s skill with cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but also the world-class Sonoma County and Mendocino County vineyards he sources from.
View interview with Greg La Follette.