Marie-Eve Gilla

Marie-Eve Gilla

Valdemar Estates (Head Winemaker)

French-born Marie-Eve is the first woman winemaker and winery owner in the Walla Walla, Washington. She founded Forgeron Cellars in 2001. It was only the 23rd bonded winery in the AVA and is a smaller-production winery of high-quality wines (Nina Buty founded Buty Winery in 2000 but is not its winemaker).

The winery is located in what previously was the site of a blacksmith shop, which accounts for the name Marie-Eve chose for her project. In French, the word "Forgeron" refers to artisans who build with their hands, combining experience with an extensive knowledge of their trade.

Marie-Eve earned her Diplôme National d'Oenologie (Masters) at the University of Dijon, gaining practical experience and training in Burgundy's wineries and vineyards before coming to the U.S. in 1991. In 2013, she was inducted into the Seattle Chapter of the prestigious Les Dames d'Escoffier International.

Marie-Eve retired from Forgeron in August, 2019, and accepted a position as Winemaker for Valdemar Estates. This is a new winery in Walla Walla Valley and is owned by Bodegas Valdemar, a winery located in the Rioja region of Spain.

The wines that Marie-Eve produced at Forgeron received many accolades and were consistently highly rated by the Wine Advocate, The Washington Wine Report, and The International Wine Review, among others.

The Wines. We had the pleasure of tasting a number of these award-winning wines in Forgeron’s lively and attractive tasting room. These included her excellent 2013 Forgeron Barbera, 2014 Forgeron Chardonnay, the 2013 Façon Rouge, and our favorite, the creamy and intense 2013 ANVIL Cabernet Sauvignon Dionysus. There is every reason to expect that this talented winemaker will continue to produce exceptional wines at Valdemar Estates.