NEW WINEMAKER FOR EHLERS ESTATE NAPA VALLEY

By Dr. Liz Thach, Master of Wine

Laura approved Headshot

With over a decade of experience producing luxury wines in the Napa Valley for such well known names as La Jota, Mt. Brave, and Cardinale, Laura Díaz Muñoz is perfectly positioned to take the helm of Ehlers Estate as new Head Winemaker. Recruited to the position in June of 2018, Laura is excited about the opportunity in front of her.

“During this first harvest I’m focusing on getting to know the terroir of the estate, the needs of our great customer base, and the wisdom of our employees,” states Laura. “This is an historic Napa Valley estate with roots going back to the 1880’s, and the winery has achieved many awards over the years. I’m here to help take us to the next level.”

Born in Spain and schooled in enology at the prestigious Polytechnic University of Madrid, Laura served in several winemaking stints in New Zealand and Chile, before moving to Napa Valley in 2007. She is especially impressed with Ehlers because of its focus on social responsibility.

Supporting Heart Research

The estate is owned by the Leducq Foundation, established by Jean and Sylviane Leducq in 1996. Originally from France, Jean and Sylviane came to the Napa Valley searching for a contiguous estate similar to the great chateaux of Bordeaux. Today Ehlers is known for high-end Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and is unique in that all profits are channeled to heart research and over the years have shepherded more than $200 million into cardiovascular research grants in 16 countries.

Highly Involved Employees

Another unique aspect of Ehlers is its focus on progressive human resource practices. The estate was one of the first wineries to provide full time employment to its vineyard workers, rather than just seasonal work, as is more common. Due to this, they have a very loyal workforce, with many employees who have been with the winery for more than 15 years, such as Francisco Vega, Vineyard Manager and Cellar Master.

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“It is very fulfilling to work here,” explains Francisco, “because we get to see the complete cycle of the vine, and assist in every aspect of the vineyard and winemaking processes. All of us feel as if we make a positive impact on the wine.”

Another distinctive employee engagement program at Ehlers is the practice of giving each tasting room employee a short row of vines to tend. Since the vineyard is completely organic, these employees learn the natural way to farm without chemicals or pesticides. The name of each employee is listed at the end of their row, and they often become very attached to managing their vines. In this way, the tasting room team also learns the cycle of the vine, and can more easily explain this to customers.

Listening to the Land and the People

As Laura assumes her new role she is deeply involved in the harvest; walking the vineyard to taste the grapes and making decision on pick time and winemaking procedures. “I am here to listen to the wisdom of the land and people,” she says, “and then to decide on next steps. We know what we do well, and now we need to focus on taking our wines to the next level. Together we will make that happen.”

Ehlers Estate reviews:

http://planetgrapewinereview.com/newworldwine_reviews/2016-ehlers-estate-cabernet-franc-st-helena-napa-valley/

http://planetgrapewinereview.com/newworldwine_reviews/2016-ehlers-estate-sauvignon-blanc-st-helena-napa-valley/

http://planetgrapewinereview.com/newworldwine_reviews/2015-ehlers-estate-portrait-red-blend-st-helena-napa-valley/

http://planetgrapewinereview.com/newworldwine_reviews/2014-ehlers-estate-merlot-st-helena-napa-valley/

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