Winemaker Greg La Follette makes magical Sonoma Coast wines.
By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Hands-on winemaker, Greg La Follette captures each vineyard’s terrior in the expression of his wines—as the wine labels illustrate.
Wine labels have evolved to an art form. I receive wines, for my tasting consideration, with everything from comical criminals to real, pressed wildflowers on the labels. So I try to avoid being attracted by wine labels. But I fell for La Follette at first glance. The illustration is derived from a rare first-edition, 1847 French viticulture manual. Yet on the La Follette label, the winegrower’s tool was replaced with a "magic wand" to communicate the mystical relationship between the winemaker and his vineyard.
La Follette’s expertise is a synthesis of his education, and decades of scientific research and winemaking experience. He earned a double BA in Plant Biology and Chemistry from California State University and a Masters in Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. His research in the study of “mouth feel” (in which he focused on how different yeasts affect the mouth feel and wine’s finished flavors) is legendary.
La Follette’s expertise is evident in the texture and balance of his three Chardonnays and five Pinot Noirs—all sourced from California’s Sonoma County and Mendocino Country AVAs. Chardonnay Sangiacomo Vineyard 2009 ($29.99) offers notes of musk, citrus, melon, nectarine and thyme. Nice acidity and minerality balance the layers of flavor in this sensuous wine. La Follette Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2009 ($29.99) has a floral bouquet and a seductive mouth feel. Notes of earth, French oak, and pomegranate magically evolve within a balanced tannin and acidity structure in this beautiful wine.