Ancient Oak Cellars has named Greg La Follette as Winemaker. Greg will further refine the winery’s range of extraordinary estate wines, including Siebert Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon from the Berger vineyard on Sonoma Mountain, and Pagnano Zinfandel from Russian River Valley. Greg will also add single-vineyard and reserve Chardonnays.
Greg, a celebrated winemaker known for his painterly and nuanced mastery of the winemaker’s art, learned secrets of the art from the acknowledged “Dean” of California winemaking, André Tchelistcheff. Greg subsequently has built up a series of wine labels into iconic names in the wine world with a combination of daring winemaking technique and the development of previously little-known vineyard sites into storied exemplars. Greg continues to represent his eponymous label, but now that the brand is taking off, he has the freedom to work on promising projects such as Ancient Oak Cellars.
“We’ve been sharing a cellar for several years and comparing notes as we have made wine alongside each other. Hard work and long hours are a joy and a privilege when you can share what you have in the company of good people. This is something Greg understands at a most basic level and we couldn’t be more pleased to be working directly with Greg and his wife and partner Mara,” says Melissa Moholt-Siebert, co-owner with her husband, Ken Moholt-Siebert.
“Melissa and Ken are the real thing,” says Greg. “I’ve been watching them for several years now and have admired not only their wines and their ideas about wine – which align with mine very well – but also their work and family ethics. Winemaking is like child-rearing, and Melissa and Ken have preserved their family’s farm and are raising a son who is a professional ballet dancer and a daughter who is gifted in science, art, and literature, plays the cello – and also gets up before dawn on harvest days to work in the vineyard alongside her parents and the crew. So they have their feet in generations of dirt and out of that comes something ethereal. Of course it helps that they have some special hillside vineyards – all very close to Santa Rosa – that they farm totally hands-on and which produce some standout fruit that I can showcase. I am thrilled to be making wine directly with Melissa and Ken after having worked with some of their fruit in the past. There is nothing like small family winery stewardship to bring great wines to the table.”
“When we first put the Sonoma Mountain Berger Vineyard Cabernet in the fermentor, it seemed like the air was singing,” says Ken Moholt-Siebert. “I know that Greg can hear it, and I think he hears some other, different songs for our other wine varietals as well. I’m most excited, I think, to see where he takes us with Chardonnay.”