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Alquimista is a burgeoning, artisanal winery from partners Greg La Follette and Patrick Dillon that aims to craft benchmark cool-climate Pinot noir and Chardonnay.

Greg La Follette has built his career crafting some of California’s most distinctive Pinot noirs, including at such well-known wineries as Flowers and DeLoach, and has consulted internationally. His partnership with Patrick Dillon set the stage for this exciting new winery by allowing the partners to get back to the roots of world-class winemaking.

  • A self-proclaimed “Pinot Disciple” Greg is able with this new venture to narrow his winemaking focus to his first love, Pinot noir—and small-lot Chardonnay.
  • With Alquimista, Greg and Patrick have narrowed their focus to a handful of only the very best cool-climate vineyards, working with successful growers whose approach complements the winery’s vision.

As winemakers, Greg & Patrick embrace the French concept of “elevage” to a degree rarely seen in California to create vibrant, balanced Pinot noir and Chardonnay.

  • “Elevage” means gently nurturing a wine along through its various stages, starting in the vineyard. It is truly “raising” the wine, much as one raises a child. It is a practice that demands inordinate time, patience and a good degree of faith.
  • Greg La Follette is as strongly identified with viticultural expertise as winemaking skill and has developed some of the most renowned growing sites in Sonoma County.
  • Greg & Patrick espouse winemaking techniques and practices that are time-consuming and meticulous, such as lees management, barrel fermentation and selection, and hand-plunging fermentations in open-topped re-purposed dairy tanks which are difficult and laborious to use but give unparalleled surface-to-volume ratio for skin extraction management.

Alquimista wines are born of exceptional vineyard sites, each carefully selected for unique character and intense regional expression.

  • Alquimista wines offer a true tour of terroir, showcasing renowned vineyard sites of the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Mountain and Mendocino AVAs.
  • Alquimista produces five vineyard-designate and one Russian River AVA Pinot noirs and four vineyard-designate Chardonnays.
  • Alquimista Manchester Ridge Pinot noir is neither Old World nor New World but an intriguing combination—truly its own definition of Pinot.

Greg La Follette, an artist and a scientist, believes that complexity in wine is not an accident. Rather, a true artistic creation such as wine is possible when deep scientific knowledge sets the stage for experimentation and intuition.

  • Greg’s first love was music and he brings an artist’s sensibility to his winemaking.
  • Greg has delved more deeply than most into the science behind winemaking, including extensive research into the scientific components of mouthfeel and what makes yeasts “tick.”
  • The rich, complex palette available to him when he crafts his wines is the result of his expertise in viticulture and winemaking.


The Wines:

  • Lorenzo Vineyard Chardonnay: Among the oldest Chard vines in the RRV, Lorenzo Vineyard makes spicy, richly textured wines as only old vines can.
  • Manchester Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay: Formerly un-planted, cold coastal region and brand new clones from Burgundy combined with “brown juice club” handling and basket pressing = enigmatic, new-paradigm Chardonnay flavors of great subtlety, complexity and longevity.
  • Confluence Pinot noir: Focus is on the structure and flavors of only what Pinot noir can do in the Russian River–having weight and structure while almost levitating, defying gravity. We want this wine to be the “most elegant dinner companion” contest winner and is built to seamlessly harmonize the voices of several classic Russian River vineyards.
  • Van der Kamp Vineyards Pinot noir: Highest vineyard on N slope of Sonoma Mt, old vines, 7 clones planted in shallow volcanic soils and a touch of Pinot Meunier partner with the wild yeast of this site to give tremendous sense of place/terroir to the wine’s voice.
  • Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir: Formerly un-planted, cold coastal region with struggling vines, extreme winegrowing and classic whole-cluster fermentation techniques give this wine a sense of place that is all its own – neither Old-World nor Californian, but its own unique, unmistakable, harmonious voice.

The Vineyards (only two share PN and CH):

Manchester Ridge is a “winegrowing-X” (extreme winegrowing) site whose 2000+’ elevation immediately above the ocean, cold climate but island-in-the-sky position above the dense fog and low clouds yields flavors and textures that are neither old world nor Californian – an unmistakable voice of true terroir.
Mes Filles Vineyard: This is the very last vineyard in the SW corner of the Russian River, at the Blucher Creek headwaters, the most southerly tributary of the Russian River. It is at the crossroads of 4 of the most important climatic and geographic considerations of our region:

  • At the top of a solo hill at 600 – 800’, it sits barely above the fog line but still in full sunshine on most days
  • The next ridge over rolls down to the Pacific Ocean – not even redwoods grow on those chilly, wind-swept slopes
  • The soil is Goldridge sandy loam, a well-draining substrate that has been identified as ideal for growing Pinot noir and Chardonnay
  • It overlooks the Petaluma Gap in the Sebastopol Hills, influenced greatly by this coolest and most new (Petaluma Gap AVA approval 2017) of the Sonoma Coast regions


Our Background shows a long history of working passionately with high-end labels; the team of growers and wine folk first assembled by Greg La Follette beginning with Hartford that put Flowers and Tandem on the map.

  • UC Davis trained for “speaking the language of the vine and wine”.
  • Worked in the industry under masters such as Tchelistcheff and Kongsgaard.
  • Brought skills to a fine hone as pioneers in the challenging “true” Sonoma Coast.
  • We have now hung our own shingle with growers, some of whom have worked with Greg La Follette for decades.

Our Vineyard Sources are stable, long-term relationships spanning several labels.

  • We work closely with our growers’ vineyard management to cultivate expression of terroir.
  • We helped plant several of these vineyards and assisted in ascending their reputation:
    • Van der Kamp: we camped out at their doorstep until they agreed to give us grapes. Have provided them with much of the new bud wood for planting this top-of-the-mountain site.
    • Lorenzo Vineyard: when we first took grapes into La Crema, they were lost in CA or county programs of indifferent producers. Now it’s a who’s who of exciting labels, and we still use the fruit 25 years later!
    • Manchester Ridge: 2200’ high and the ridge overlooking the Mendocino coast, extreme winegrowing has yielded “best red wine in America” at the AFWC for Greg
    • Haiku Vineyard: Mary Fetzer’s son Tyler came from the Silicon Valley to don a farmer’s cap as we mentored him in his first years transitioning from IT to AG

Our Focus is fixed on quality achieved through passion and dedication to our craft.

  • Terroir: our single-vineyard designates express the unique voice of each site. Six Pinots and four Chardonnays, each different from the next.
  • Mouthfeel: each vineyard designate offers different flavor and aroma profiles, but the thread of continuity is the rich, powerful yet elegant texture in each glass of Alquimista. Greg did his postgraduate work at UCD on “mouthfeel”.
  • Deliciousness: our AVA wines express this best. 180 degrees from terroir, these wine are about deliciousness and who wins the “first empty glass” contest.

Our Techniques: ages-old Burgundian approaches using best current knowledge combined with winegrowing passion.

  • Vineyard: “THE PROCESS IS ONE” means we make wine through the vineyard. We employ sustainable agricultural practices through balanced vine management and foster the dialogue between vine and wine, creation and interpretation.
  • Winery: we employ a holistic approach to winegrowing, the knowledge of which has been gained over many years and uses the following principles:
    • Native/feral yeast and malolactic fermentations.
    • Passive oxidation of juice reduces bitterness, decreases the use of SO2 and fining, enhances mouth feel and texture and provides a rich, deep color that is stable over time.
    • “Pushing the envelope” means we do not practice safe winemaking techniques – we strive for exciting wines that are unfiltered and un-fined. Our wines may form sediment or may not be brilliantly clear, but they are alive and will evolve over time in both glass and bottle.

Get an intimate, insider’s view of Alquimista Cellars by viewing our website and joining our “Inner Circle” wine club to get exclusive invites to upcoming events and vineyard tours. Our Commitment : Wine IS our life!

    • We have now given most of our adult lives to our craft. We have always been about wine – it was never a hobby or a fun investment for dollars earned in other fields. Every nickel we have is devoted to this consuming endeavor.
    • We believe in the passion of other wine lovers. Our goal is to bring our vision of terroir to the marketplace, and to folks who get truly excited about what they taste in wine.
    • In every bottle, you will taste our passion for and dedication to wine


2016 Convergence Pinot noir

    • Blend of Manchester Ridge, Oppenlander and Haiku vineyards. The Manchester Ridge benefitted from use of Chardonnay lees in the 2 barrels of new oak, these barrels having been fermented in the Manchester Chard. The remainders of all the vineyard-designate barrels were once- & twice-used French oak, with all wines being transferred to barrels on pressing before primary fermentation was finished. This yielded soft, supple, round blending components that, with extended time in barrel, produced a “come hither, drink now” wine that will be enjoyed upon release as well as patient cellaring for those who want to explore the nuances of what age brings….

2016 Mes Filles Vineyard Pinot noir

    • Bold color and extract characterize this most westerly vineyard of the Russian River Valley. Aromas of Bay Laurel, cedar box and black cherries carry into the palate of sandalwood, bay, ripe red fruits with a long, lingering finish. One of the first vineyards designated “American Grand Cru.”

2016 Haiku Vineyard Chardonnay

    • More Chablis-like in its presentation, fine and mouth-watering acidity frames pear and yellow stone fruit in both nose and mouth. Mid-palate reflects the stony soil of the vineyard’s river bench. Finish remains crisp yet persistent.

2016 Lorenzo Vineyard Chardonnay

    • Brioche and crème brulee accented with wildflowers on the nose. Palate of white peach, tropical fruits of mango and papaya framed by hints of vanilla wafer and toasted almonds all framed by crisp mineral acidity.

2016 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay

    • A veritable old-world-meets-new cacophony of flavors, the nose is greeted with light floral scents of honeysuckle and rose pedals mixed in with yellow fruits. Mouth is filled with bright yellow fruit acidity and tangy extract. Complex and layered.

2017 Mes Filles Vineyard Chardonnay

    • The cool maritime influence is evident in this coastal classic. Mineral-driven, the fruit flavors are of white pineapple, Bosque pear and yes, Gravenstein apples. Great acidity gives a firm backbone, balanced by the fruit flavors and a gentle kiss of French oak.

2017 van der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Meunier

    • Ebullient, fickle, flirtatious, delicate, this wine has been pampered by careful handling during whole-cluster fermentation. Its floral fragrance is laced with huckleberry, maraschino cherry, dried herbs and tea-rose blossoms. At play on the plate are citrus zest, raspberry and confected fruit..

2016 van der Kamp Vineyard Pinot noir

    • Floral aromatics and forest floor burst forth followed by baking spices, particularly cinnamon and nutmeg. High-toned red fruit dances along the palate, with hints of watermelon, light stone fruit and strawberry cream in a lilting journey owning to partial whole-cluster fermentation finessed by high mountain tannins and balanced acidity.

2016 Confluence Pinot noir

    • Drawing from the structure of the Mes Filles Vineyard, the firm acid backbone of Hawk’s Roost Ranch and the pretty ebullience of the Lorenzo Vineyard, the nose is greeted with dried flowers, red fruits/cranberries and bayberry spice. On the palate, there is great structural synergy at play that starts with cranberry and finishes long with red cherries and rose petals. In between is a mouth-watering presence that speaks to rich, savory food pairings as a great companion at table.

2016 Hawk’s Roost Ranch Pinot noir

    • Bacon fat, meaty, smoky, pepper and savory spice, accented by camphor and flinty wet stone with Santa Rosa plum and cranberry evolving on the nose as the wine receives air-time. Dark chocolate, cranberry and fruit compote on the palate with overarching mouthfeel that spreads robust but pliable tannins from start to finish. Decidedly on the higher-acid side of American Pinots, there is a late echo in the aftertaste of cranberries and red fruits. A departure from your average Cali Pinot, this wine speaks to the Mariafeld clone and the clay-loam site in the cool Russian River Valley in spades!

2016 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot noir

    • A bouquet of violets, strawberry laced with tomato leaf, herbs and peat are carried by sea smoke from this climatically challenged elevated sea cliff vineyard. Striving to survive, these vines overachieve with rewards of Rainer cherries atop spiced cookie dough, dried fruit and bitter orange in a prolonged march aided by balanced tannins and acidity along the palate. The combination evokes duende, the Spanish term for inspiring spontaneous emotional reactions.

2016 Oppenlander Pinot noir

    • A larger-than-life Pinot noir, this is a classic Mendo coastal wine with dark color and firm tannins supported by a great natural acid backbone. Touches of earth and savory spices are well framed by red fruits, most predominantly and enigmatically cranberry. With a mouth-watering mid-palate and long, lingering aftertaste, this Mendocino County gem will please now and age gracefully with years of proper cellaring.

2016 Jessie’s Grove” Ancient Vine” Royal Tee Vineyard

    Ethereal spicy aromas derive from this mélange of Zinfandel, Carignan, Flame Tokay, Black Prince, Malvasia Bianca and Mission grapes, cohabiting for nearly 130 years in this iconic vineyard in the heart of California Delta country. Pinot-like smoothness achieved from partial whole-cluster fermentation defines the flavors of layered plum, fruit compote and spicy pumpkin with just enough spice to remind that this is predominantly Zinfandel.
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