Monday, October 8, 2012

10/8-Michael Horn talks with Greg La Follette, Jim Fiolek and Bill Smart

Greg La Follette - Winemaker, La Follette Wines
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.

Jim Fiolek - Executive Director Santa Barbara County Vintners Assoc

The Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 to support and promote Santa Barbara County as a premium wine producing and wine grape growing region. The Vintners’ Association produces festivals, seminars and tastings and provides information to consumers and the wine and travel media.

For more info, go to

Bill Smart - Director of Communications - Dry Creek Vineyard
The history of Dry Creek Vineyard is a long and colorful one.   Founded in 1972 by David S. Stare, Dry Creek Vineyard paved the way for a renaissance of winemaking and viticulture in the Dry Creek Valley.  Before his arrival, the Dry Creek Valley was little more than a few family farms and prune orchards.   It was Dave’s vision to start a Loire Valley inspired winery that reintroduced consumers to the wines of northern Sonoma County.

Without a doubt, David Stare is a pioneer. Heading west in the late 1960s, Dave personified the character and work ethic of early Gold Rush pioneers. Educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dave worked for the B&O Railroad for several years but quickly realized that his true calling was in the wine industry. Inspired by his trips to the Loire Valley, Dave headed west to California to start his own family winery.  

Upon his arrival, Dave began taking winemaking classes at UC Davis as a graduate student. On the weekends, he spent time looking at vineyard land from Monterey to Mendocino. It was during one of those weekend trips that fate drew Dave to the Dry Creek Valley. When he saw an old prune orchard across the  street  from the  Dry Creek General Store,  Dave  realized  that  he 
had found his dream location. He purchased the orchard and began planting vines. Captivated by his memories of  Loire-style wines, Sauvignon Blanc seemed destined to figure prominently in the Dry Creek Vineyard portfolio. However, several famed vineyard specialists advised him against planting Sauvignon Blanc.  Always defiant, Dave planted the varietal anyway and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, our second-generation family owned winery continues to evolve and grow to meet the demands of a global wine marketplace.  The primary mission of our winery is to produce distinctive wines that over deliver on quality.  For more than 30 years, this pursuit of winemaking excellence has lead to many international awards and accolades. With a loyal following of wine club members and customers, the future of Dry Creek Vineyard has never been brighter. 

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