Updated: Jul 21, 2021
The heart and soul approach to winemaking revealed within Alquimista Cellars, pronounced “Al-qui-mis-ta.” The name itself is a reference to alchemy, the process of combining various elements in order to make gold, or in this case, gold medal wines.
Hawk's Roost Vineyard.
Winemakers Greg La Follette, a biochemist who has worked with wines for over two decades, and Patrick Dillion, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, are the dynamic duo behind Alquimista Cellars. Together they’ve partnered to create vibrant, supple Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, always seeking to highlight the unique characteristics and intense expressions of various varietals. Greg, considered one of North America’s most admired winemakers, is known for his meticulous winemaking techniques, and ways of fusing science and the elements.
Greg thinning the vineyards.
The wonders of their wine are experienced with each sip, and one of the reasons we sought to interview Greg, hoping to learn more about their magical methods and carefully crafted creations.
Q: How did Alquimista Cellars get started?
A: I co-founded it with Patrick Dillon. He had worked with me at La Follette Wines, and at one point we were commanded by the majority owner ‘not’ to pick a certain vineyard, due to difficulty and expense, but Patrick decided that we would pick it anyway. La Follette's Manchester Ridge won the sweepstakes award at the American Fine Wine Competition, ostensibly wearing the mantle of “Best Red Wine in America.” Patrick then declared we should start our own label where no one would tell us what to do.
Q: What do you do to keep your wines and land healthy?
A: Sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming of the land.
Q: How many different grape varieties do you work with?
A: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Zinfandel, Cinsault and Carignan. The Pinot and Chardonnay are the twin jewels of Burgundy, and these are our focus. The other varietals are from some of the oldest vineyards on the planet, and we enjoy the stewardship of these ancient vines.
Q: Tell us something curious about your region or area.
A: West Sonoma County is very rural and agricultural. The first grapes were planted by Russians in the early 1800s, well before the Franciscan missionaries came to Sonoma County. The land here is incredibly diverse, and has more soil types than all of France!
Q: Anything else we should know about the winery, or you?
A: We may be new, but we have been making wine for decades and Alquimista Wines are the culmination of many years of learning.
Van der Kamp Vineyard.
Appellation: Russian River Valley, Sonoma Mountain, Mendocino County, Mendocino Ridges, and Mokelumne River
Producers in appellation: Mes Filles Vineyard, Hawk’s Roost Ranch, van der Kamp Vineyard,
Total production in bottles: 16,000
# of different wines produced: 13
Cork closures (y/n): “UniQ” technical natural cork
Organic/biodynamic (other): all sustainably farmed, some organic & biodynamic
Yield per hectare: 5kL/ha average, 2.3 tons/acre
Pairing suggestions for Alquimista Cellars wines shown in our shop listings below.
Buy now & try a taste of magic!
Alquimista Cellars 'Convergence' Pinot Noir Cuvée 2016, Mendocino County, California
100% Pinot Noir from 3 Mendocino Vineyards and aged for 19 months in French oak (10% new) on lees. Each Vineyard contributes attributes of its unique terroir; soil, elevation, microclimate, farming technique and mystique. With clear coastal influences, this wine shows notes of bitter orange, cranberry and cinnamon that are well-balanced with tannin and acidity through the finish. We love it with duck, chicken, pork and mushrooms.
Alquimista Cellars 'Mes Filles' Chardonnay 2017, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
100% Chardonnay aged for 10 months on lees in 1/3 each new, once and twice used French barrels. The cool, maritime influence is evident in this mineral-driven Chardonnay. Fruit flavors of pineapple, Bosque pear and Gravenstein apples are balanced by great acidity and accented with hints of French oak. We love this wine with richer fish dishes, pork, chicken and anything in a cream sauce or with fungi!
Alquimista Cellars 'Haiku' Chardonnay 2016, Sanel Valley, Mendocino County, California
100% Chardonnay aged for 18 months in 25% new French oak barrels on lees. The wine shows yeasty cookie dough, piecrust and lemon blossom aromas. Tropical fruit and zesty citrus are highlights on the palate. There are light flavors of vanilla amid a balanced acidity that shows a Chablis-like character. For this wine we like to take advantage of its naturally high acidity which works wonders with delicate, creamy sauces. Stick to lighter meats and fishes like chicken, bass, halibut, cod, clams or scallops.
Alquimista Cellars 'Mes Filles' Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
100% Pinot Noir aged in French oak barrels on lees, only 800 bottles of this wine were produced. Mes Filles Pinot Noir shows aromas of bay laurel, cedar and black cherry that into into a palate of sandalwood and ripened fruits with a long, lingering finish. An incredibly versatile food pairing wine given its higher acidity and lower tannin, we love this wine with duck, chicken, pork and mushrooms.