MSEC 18_Greg La Follette_BIO

Greg La Follette
Alquimista Cellars

Greg La Follette was born in Europe, growing up with an old-world view that wine is raised rather than "made”.  After studying ancient Burgundian techniques at UC Davis, he continued on-the-job studies at Beaulieu Vineyard as research viticulturist/enologist with wine master, André Tchelistcheff. 

From BV, Greg went to work at Kendall-Jackson where he was responsible for gathering and disseminating the best and latest thoughts on vine/wine quality as in-house troubleshooter/consultant.  Recruited to help resuscitate a bankrupt La Crema and launch Hartford Court, he went on to provide technical assistance on planting thousands of acres, design wineries and explore new projects on other continents. 

La Follette then turned his talents to Flowers Vineyard & Winery where he was the winemaker, vineyard manager, and general manager, launching one of the most successful small Pinot labels to date.  The winery he built at Flowers is still considered one of the very best gravity-flow, gas-assist green wineries in the world.  Since then he has developed an award-winning international consultancy as well as his own eponymous brand La Follette Wines (with which he is no longer involved) and most recently partnered with co-winemaker Patrick Dillon to form Alquimista Cellars.  He also consults for high-end Cabernet in The Napa Valley without fanfare and under the radar, as he prefers. 

Greg's accolades include: winning the “world championship of Pinot noir” for both the European and American judging; best Chardonnay in the world (4x); winemaker of the year (7x, 6 different groups); “most awarded winemaker in America” by Decanter magazine; voted as one of the 20 most admired winemakers in North America by his peers and one of the 15 most influential winemakers in America;  “Wine of the year” in “Wine Enthusiast” top 100 wines of the year; and one of the 12 best winemakers on Olivet Rd (there are only 9 wineries on Olivet Rd) which his cellar workers are fond of reminding him.  He lives simply in West Sonoma County, tending his vines and wines without fanfare/schmoozing, eschewing the limelight in favor of barbecuing with family (6 grown kids) & anyone who wants to come & taste his wines in a barrel in Sebastopol.  Family is his & wife Mara’s focus. 



"Artisan/Winery of the Year" by Wine & Spirits in 1995 at Hartford Court and again twice (unprecedented) in 1999 and 2000 at Flowers Vineyard & Winery 

“Winemaker of the Year” by several publications/writers, several times (Wine & Spirits, Pinot Report, California Wine Report, Dan Berger, American Fine Wine Competition) 

One of 20 “Most Admired Winemakers in North America” (Vineyard & Winery Management 2014) and rated #15 in “100 Most influential Winemakers in America” 

World’s best Chardonnay (4 times) and Sauvignon blanc (4 times in a row) by Wine & Spirits 

"The Best of the Best" for both Chardonnay and Pinot noir by Wine Spectator 

Under Greg’s leadership, Flowers was called one of the 5 finest producers of Pinot noir by Robert Parker 

Sweepstakes winners: “best red wine in the US” at the American Fine Wine Competition (2009 La Follette Pinot noir); “best wine in CA” at the California State Fair (1993 La Crema Pinot noir) 

Numerous best-of-class or best varietal (Cabernet, Pinot noir, Sangiovese, Chardonnay) at a number of national and international wine competitions and over 250 90+ scored wines across several publications 

#1-rated Pinot noir (Tandem) in the world in the 2004 Pinot noir Shootout and Summit, an independently-judged Pinot competition involving hundreds of Pinots world-wide. 

“Wine of the Year” several times by several publications (Boston Globe, Robb Report, Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast, Pinot Report) 

#1 Wine in the world for 2006 (De Loach 30th Anniversary Pinot noir) from the Wine Enthusiast (Dec 2006 best 100 wines of the year) 

#1 rated Pinot noir in the world for value from Decanter (De Loach Russian River blend, top 50 wines in the world for value), numerous wines placed in several “top 100 wines of the year” or best varietal of the year in several publications 

Winner, “Mondial du Pinot noir” and “Mondial du Sauvignon blanc” (best Pinot noir and Best Sauvignon blanc in the world, judged in Europe) for Vina Casa Marin in Chile, making Greg the first winemaker to hold both awards 

Decanter has rated Greg’s Sauvignon blanc as “best in the world” and has been awarded the regional Decanter trophy in South America as well as being named “most awarded winemaker in America” 

La Follette's wines have been served at the White House at several state events, including to 44 heads-of-state at the NATO 50th Anniversary and he has been asked by the State Dept. and other goodwill organizations to represent the US in efforts abroad to improve winemaking practices in other countries 

Greg has now turned his attention to vineyard & winery improvements globally. He has designed/redesigned 14 wineries worldwide (emphasis: “green” design), was consulting designing winemaker for the new UC Davis teaching winery and has been involved in projects on 5 continents.  Having lectured at several institutions and spoken internationally at a number of professional gatherings, Greg has helped FPS and UC Davis develop their Sangiovese clonal collection and has helped increase the understanding of this enigmatic varietal in South America and Australia.