Meet Bay Area native, Katey Larwood, head winemaker at Goldeneye Winery, one of the top pinot noir producers in all of California.
Katey is deeply passionate about Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. After earning a degree in viticulture and enology from Cal Poly, Katey started her winemaking career at Lynmar Estates, where she began refining her approach to cool-climate Pinot. After Lynmar, Katey spent a few years abroad gaining international experience in New Zealand, France, and Australia. Following her time overseas, Katey spent two years as a winemaker in New York’s Finger Lakes region before returning to the region she was drawn to the most, the Anderson Valley. Katey joined Goldeneye as assistant winemaker in 2016, was promoted Goldeneye’s head winemaker in 2018 and now oversees the Anderson Valley’s most acclaimed estate Pinot Noir program (which includes almost 140 acres of vines and 16 distinctive clones).
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Katey to learn more about her journey to Goldeneye, what she enjoys most about making wine at this celebrated winery and some exciting developments on the horizon in Goldeneye’s vineyards.
To learn more, read our full interview below.
Know your winemaker, know your wine
Nelson Gerena (NG): What drew you to Goldeneye?
Katey Larwood (KL): What drew me to Goldeneye was its clear intent to make wines with purpose and meaning, and that highlight Anderson Valley’s uniqueness and reveal its identity.
NG: What makes Goldeneye special?
KL: Within the first several months of starting at Goldeneye, I quickly realized how special of a place it really is. That uniqueness comes from the community of people that encompass our wines, without which we wouldn’t be here. From the outstanding and highly dedicated teams in the cellar, vineyards, and tasting room, as well as the countless people involved in the farming of our fruit, there is a real sense of family here at Goldeneye.
NG: What would you say is the most important thing you learned while working abroad in New Zealand, France and Australia?
KL: The most important lessons in my work travels have been to be completely open to new ways of thinking and know that every day is a new opportunity to learn – so pay attention!
NG: How would you describe your winemaking style in 5 words or less?
KL: An attentive and inquisitive aspiration to create.
NG: Which wine was your “a-ha!” wine – the one that made you love wine or inspired you to get into the industry?
KL: My “a-ha, I need to pursue this” moment was not actually linked with a specific wine, but rather was my first experience on a crush pad. After visiting a small urban winery in Santa Barbara on a class fieldtrip, I offered to volunteer so I could see how wine was made. After my first day of sorting fruit, hosing out bins, and raking grapes into a giant hopper, I went home and couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was then when I had my “a-ha” and thought that this feeling of creation, comradery, and accomplishment was absolutely what I wanted.
NG: What wines can’t you get enough of right now?
KL: Oh man! I love Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, of course. I also really enjoy German (Rheinhessen, Pfalz) and New York Finger Lakes Riesling, Beaujolais, Champagne, and Santa Barbara Syrah.
NG: What do you enjoy most about making wine at Goldeneye?
KL: The fruit that we’re able to work with is some of the most eclectic in the valley. Our vineyards lie at distinctive points, which allows us to showcase the true terroir and identity of the region.
NG: What’s coming on your horizon that you’re most excited about?
KL: In 2014, we grafted 25 acres at our farthest western site, the Narrows Vineyard. These blocks are now just starting to come into their own, and now we have the opportunity to work with this fruit. It’s an exciting time for the vineyard!
NG: What advice would you give the younger Katey just embarking on her career in wine?
KL: Intuition is powerful, embrace every experience, and take better notes in wine microbiology!
Crafted predominantly from estate fruit, this wine is a gorgeous expression of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Full-bodied and rustic, it delivers a lively, mouth-watering blend of red fruit, mushrooms, leather, spice and a touch of vanilla. Aged in 100% French Oak Burgundy-style barrels (60% New, 20% Second, 20% Neutral), this wine has elegant tannins and beautiful structure.
2016 ANDERSON VALLEY PINOT NOIR GOWAN CREEK VINEYARD
Goldeneye’s Gowan Creek Vineyard offers an ideal Southwestern exposure, and an array of unique vineyard blocks planted with clones of Pinot Noir carefully tailored to each site and soil type. Noticeably more complex than the already impressive Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, the aromatics on this wine burst from the glass showing black fruit, spice and oak. On the palate, the wine delivers concentrated flavors of black cherry, cedar and baking spices. Full-bodied. Beautiful structure. Will only improve with some bottle aging.
2016 TEN DEGREES ANDERSON VALLEY PINOT NOIR
A blend of the top lots from Goldeneye’s three estate vineyards in Anderson Valley, this wine is the pinnacle of their portfolio. It beautifully showcases the depth and diversity of Goldeneye’s three Anderson Valley estate vineyards with layers of complex flavors including bright red fruit, baking spices, earth, minerality and forest floor. Gorgeous mouthfeel and long finish. An outstanding wine worth seeking out.