Proust Q&A: Laurie Hook

Laurie Hook is the winemaker at Napa’s oldest wine estate, Beringer Vineyards, which she joined in 1986 as an enologist. She expresses a desire to be more patient and multi-lingual, and her respect for a fictional leopard.

Laurie Hook

Laurie Hook

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sharing time with friends and family – preferably on holiday and over some particularly appealing food and wines!

What is your greatest fear? 

I’m fortunate to not dwell on that too frequently, but I do have a desire to see the world as a peaceful, healthy place so I fear war, as well as the degradation of our own natural resources.

Who do you most admire?

I admire the people I work with. In my tenure at Beringer I’ve had the chance to work with an amazing array of people – all passionate about wine in their own way and committed to honouring our vineyards, historical legacy and innovation so I find that very impressive, even after 26 harvests.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Travel – whenever I find myself with time to take a holiday, I’m passionate about exploring new destinations and cultures.

What is your current state of mind? 

At the moment I’ve got quite a lot on my mind as this is a very important time at the winery. We’re tasting various lots at the winery as frequently as possible, and beginning to put together blends for upcoming vintages – it’s an exciting time as we are beginning to see the wines take shape and exhibit the incredible range of aromas and flavors that will continue to develop.

What is the quality you most like in a person? 

I appreciate integrity, curiosity, kindness and humor in all people – they are qualities I hope to display on my best days, and find myself drawn to in others.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I might be accused of using the word wonderful too much.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Outside of my family, I feel very fortunate to have a career that is meaningful and rewarding to me. I’m not sure you could call it love, but it is certainly one of the most important passions in my life.

When and where were you happiest?

As a winemaker, the thrill of Harvest simply never goes away. Each year brings a new variety of challenges, unpredictability and sheer excitement such that I’m always looking forward to the next one.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to speak Spanish, French, German, Swedish, you name it, fluently.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would like to be a bit more patient. In winemaking we are often moving onto the next phase or challenge and I have a tendency to focus on what’s next rather than just enjoy the moment for what it is.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I consider being a part of one of the most iconic Napa Valley wineries to be an achievement, as well as the tenure I’ve had while here at Beringer which has afforded me a chance to work with some remarkable vineyards and ideally create a few memorable wines for people to enjoy around the world.

Where would you most like to live?

I feel very lucky to live in beautiful Napa Valley, California. I am sure I would enjoy living abroad for a short while but Napa is home.

What is your most treasured possession?

I love antiques – especially those I’ve found while traveling but my most treasured possessions are those that have been handed down in my family.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I think those closest to me would refer to my kindness. I am a largely optimistic person and I try to approach those who I meet with interest and enthusiasm.

Who are your favorite writers?

Isabelle Allende, Milan Kundera, Raymond Carver, Mark Twain, Mario Vargas Llosa and David McCullough are some of my favourites.

Who is your hero of fiction?

Scarlett O’Hara or Bagheera

What is it that you most dislike?

Lack of integrity and negativity. I believe that so much can be done with a good heart and positive energy.

What is your greatest regret?

I don’t really consider it a regret but I always wish I had more time to explore the world, there are so many magical places that I may not have time to get to!

What is your motto?

Be true to thyself.

Who would be your ideal dinner party guests and what wines would you serve them?

Family and friends are my ideal dinner party guests and I love opening older wines – exciting to drink and great for igniting interesting conversation.

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