Wonder Women: 10 female California winemakers to watch

Virginia Lambrix

*lead image Virginia LambrixRising star Virginia Lambrix’s wine epiphany came during a holiday in South Africa shortly after graduating from Colgate University in New York with a degree in psychology. Her Damascus moment led to a change in career path from chemical ecology to winemaking. Getting her all-important oenology masters from UC Davis, Lambrix started out at Hendry Ranch in Napa, then took flight to Chile where she worked for Concha y Toro. While in Chile she developed a passion for biodynamics that has shaped her approach to grape growing.

Back in California, stints at Lynmar and De Loach in the Russian River Valley followed, where she fell in love with Chardonnay and, despite its fickle nature, Pinot Noir. Mentored by Greg La Follette at De Loach, Lambrix learnt to understand vineyards instinctively. Her big break came in 2008 when she joined Truett Hurst as a winemaker, adding a Russian River Valley Pinot to the portfolio.

She also makes single-vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under her own VML label, and experiments with small parcels of Zinfandel and Gewürztraminer.

“In life, the biggest challenges offer the greatest rewards. This is what drew me to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” she says, describing her wines as “feminine and pretty with a fair amount of extraction and depth”. Her grape to watch in California is inky red Petite Sirah.

9 Responses to “Wonder Women: 10 female California winemakers to watch”

  1. Very enjoyable and thorough article, but am surprised you missed Bibiana González Rave, winemaker for Wayfarer and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year.

  2. Steve Bslmutj says:

    How did you leave off Jordan Fiorentini from Epoch.

  3. Sandra Roberts says:

    Missed one…Danielle Cyrot. Cade Estata, Howell Mtn

  4. Kent Benson says:

    Didn’t know WSET ever had “sommelier” exams. Might want to double check that. First paragraph of Terrizzi profile.

  5. Kent Benson says:

    Re Barrett profile: Since the topic is winemakers, give credit where credit is due. The person who “made” the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was Mike Grgich.

  6. Penny Gadd-Coster is a winemaker in Sonoma County who won “Winemaker of the Year” in 2013 in the inaugural Wine Industry Awards, a great achievement considering contenders were from the entire Napa, Sonoma and greater Bay Area winemaking regions! She’s also won over 30 Best of Class, Best of Show, Sweepstakes, Gold medals and 90+ point ratings for four wines in the past few years!

  7. Bob Kugler says:

    You missed Signe Zoller at 72 years young, graduated from Davis with a MS in enology chemistry. Founding winemaker for Jess at Kendal Jackson and now winemaker for AVE.

  8. Nice article, and I’m sure we all have additions to make. Mine are Milla Handley of Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley and Shauna Rosenblum of Rock Wall Wine Co.

  9. Carlos Rodda says:

    Agree with Kent above, it was made by WINEMAKER Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, winery was OWNED by the Barretts!

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