Marchelle is focused on creating a voice for rare and unique old vine grape varietals and is a labor of love for legendary Sonoma winemaker, Greg La Follette and partner, Kevin Lee. The name is born from combining the names of their wives “Mara” and “Michelle”. Who without their love and support this endeavor of passion would not have come about. Marchelle is dedicated to sourcing from growers who practice sustainable farming and many who have worked with Greg for decades and are considered more like family than suppliers.
Meet the Winemaker
Greg La Follette
Partner & Winemaker
Known throughout the wine world as a “vine whisperer,” “cellar magician,” and tireless coaxer and protector of his handcrafted wines. A former seminarian and biochemist with degrees in Plant Biology and Chemistry, he was an early AIDS researcher at the University of California San Francisco before earning his masters degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of California Davis. It was at Davis that Greg became fascinated with “mouth feel” and literally tore wines apart, determined to decode the chemical riddles of taste and texture, especially in Burgundian styles of Pinot noir and chardonnay.
Furthering his pursuit, in 1991, Greg moved to Napa’s Beaulieu Vineyards, where, as research viticulturist, he fell under the mentorship of André Tchelistcheff, considered the godfather of California winemakers. The Russian immigrant had his own antecedents in alchemy, having studied agricultural technology in Europe and at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where he had steeped himself in oenology, fermentation, and microbiology. “We had similar technical backgrounds,” Greg recalls, “but André challenged me. He said: ‘You can go on being a researcher; you can go back to Davis, but if you are going to work with me you are going to learn the heart and soul of wine.’” Greg literally took his mentor’s admonition to heart. For the past 24 years, he has focused on agricultural management, enjoying close and extended relationships with top growers and fellow winemakers throughout northern California, Oregon, Europe, South America, and Australia. He continues to work with these growers today.
Greg has designed and redesigned fourteen wineries worldwide and was the consulting winemaker for the University of California Davis’ “teaching winery”. He has consulted for Kendall-Jackson, starting its La Crema and Hartford Court brands. Later he launched Flowers, turning it into a cult brand, featuring its gravity-flow “green” production facility that is still considered state of the art. He went on to manage wine operations at DeLoach, and founded Tandem Wines that he produced in a converted apple processing plant in Sebastopol, California. Following his tenure at the award-winning brand that bears his name, La Follette Wines, Greg now presides over the winemaking and viticulture at Marchelle Wines, which is solely focused on small batch old vines grape varietals.