Winemaker, Antinori Napa Valley
A California native, Marla grew up in the Tehachapi Mountains, which separate the Southern California High Desert and the rich agricultural lands of the Central Valley. It was here she grew up exploring the outdoors, hiking, camping, backpacking, and cultivating an appreciation for the outdoors, and laying the foundation for her deep interest in grape growing and winemaking.
With a strong understanding of the science behind winemaking, it is her passion for food and flavors that shape her approach to crafting wine at Antica Napa Valley. Paying close attention to the distinct character and expression of each lot creates wines that express the terroir and essence of the estate vineyards atop Atlas Peak.
"I'm inspired by the endless layers of complexity that begin in the vineyard and lead to a bottle of wine. I love that it changes over time, yet is a snapshot of a particular vintage and harvest conditions," says Marla.
Marla received a degree in Biotechnology from the University of California at Davis with a concentration in Microbiology & Fermentation Science. While a few key courses introduced her to the world of wine, it wasn’t until she took a position during harvest at the historic Charles Krug Winery in 2002 in the Napa Valley, that she truly understood her interest in winemaking. In 2004, Marla accepted a position with Franciscan Estate, spending seven years in a series of roles, including Enologist and Assistant Winemaker. After some time off with her family, Marla returned to Franciscan Estate in 2013 as Winemaker.
Marla lives in Saint Helena, Calif. with her husband and their two daughters. In her down time she loves cheering on her girls on the soccer field, hiking in the nearby state parks and sharing homemade meals (with wine of course) among friends and family.
Country born: United States
Education: My time at UC Davis provided the foundation for my education in wine with professors like Linda Bisson and Roger Boulton who were skilled in teaching by letting us make mistakes and allowing us to learn from them. I supplement my education at Napa Valley College with classes to enhance my tasting experience and wine knowledge as well as my viticulture and soils education with Professor Stephen Krebs.
I worked a harvest abroad in 2008 at Kim Crawford in New Zealand. It was eye opening to work at a winery that was laser focused on one variety (Sauvignon Blanc) and how that impacted the timing and work load of everything. Very different than the moderate pace of a Napa Valley harvest.
Mentors include Janet Myers, Genevieve Janssens, Piero Antinori and Renzo Cotarella.
Years in the wine industry: 15-20 years
Honors / Awards:
Marchesi Antinori was awarded the World's Most Admired Wine Brand in 2023 by Drinks International Magazine.
Let the vineyard tell the story of what the wine should be. My job is to learn the land and help the wine express it so people feel connected to this place at a specific moment in time.