Winemaker Greg La Follette knew he wanted to create Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay wines that stayed true to his vision by sourcing fruit from the best family vineyards in Sonoma County.
I’m writing about vineyard-specific Pinot Noirs again because I had so many questions and feedback about how you truly can taste terroir differences. Trust me – dirt matters and these are unique terroirs that allow the expression of the different vineyards in Sonoma County or throughout major wine regions.
La Follette Wines was founded in 2008 when a seasoned winemaker decided it was time to pursue his own vision. His time at Kendall-Jackson, Flowers, and DeLoach, taught him he wanted to make a legacy wine of his own. He named the winery after his great-grandfather, Henry La Follette, who was a grape grower and winemaker in the Napa Valley. The logo is a drawing of the family’s La Follette barn.
Pete and Teri Knight purchased the La Follette brand from Greg. Fast forward 15 years later and La Follette wines have been recognized by critics for attention to detail on Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. They use minimal intervention in the winery because they want the character, balance, and complexity of the vineyards to shine through. Today, Winemaker Hugh Chapelle, who also co-owns Quivira Wine, is now at the helm, but other than sharing a tasting room and lead winemaker, they both have separate winemaking teams.
The winery is in Healdsburg, California and tastings are offered at their sister winery, Quivira Wine in Dry Creek Valley (about 10 minutes away). Some of the carefully cultivated family vineyards include Black Road Vineyard, Lorenzo Vineyard, Sangiacomo Green Acres Vineyard, Sun Chase Vineyard, Hawk’s Roost Vineyard, Heintz Vineyard and Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard.
I was able to try two Pinot Noirs:
- 2019 La Follette Sun Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma) – Located in the Petaluma Gap AVA, a place known for cooler climates and fog, I tasted red fruit, spices like cinnamon, and herbal notes.
- 2019 La Follette Heintz Vineyard (Russian River Valley) – this vineyard is in the Russian River Valley AVA, which has warmer temperatures and a longer growing season. It was full of fruit and lots of depth. I tasted Asian spice, cranberry, and black cherry.
La Follette Wines has stayed true to a mission of continuing to evolve wines that stay true to the expression of the vineyard, its terroir and the wine that ends up in the glass reflects the place from which it came.