Laura Díaz Muñoz

Laura Díaz Muñoz

Ehlers Estate (Winemaker & General Manager)

Born in Madrid, Spain, Laura Díaz Muñoz’s connection to the land began at her grandparents’ farm in Avila where she spent her childhood summers. Some of her earliest memories were set in her grandmother's kitchen, where homegrown food was cooked daily over an open fire pit. “My grandmother taught me the beauty of simple food, prepared well,” says Laura. “This is the philosophy I bring to my winemaking. I believe that if you start with great ingredients, there’s no need to complicate the process in the cellar.”

Laura was naturally drawn to science as a child. At the Autónoma University of Madrid, she studied biology and food sciences for three years. An internship with consulting winemaker Jose Pascual Gracia led to an opportunity to work harvest in Manchuela, a wine region of central Spain. Upon her return, Gracia recommended her to the enology department of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, urging that she be admitted into the program. Although she had fantasized about working in the wine industry, the idea of a woman winemaker was not accepted by her community, friends, or family at the time. Despite the resistance, Laura persevered and earned a master’s degree in enology, viticulture, and marketing in 2004.

After graduating, Laura worked for two years as a “laboratory responsible” at Finca Otero, working alongside Master of Wine Jane Masters and focusing primarily on Tempranillo and other Spanish varietals. Then, hoping to perfect her English and learn more about Sauvignon Blanc, she packed her bags for a job at Isabel Estate Vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand. “I loved the freedom and experimentation of the New World and I wanted to experience more.”

A phone interview in 2007 with winemaker Chris Carpenter led her to the Napa Valley, kicking off over a decade of working with Jackson Family Wines in Oakville as associate winemaker for the Cardinale, Lokoya, Mt. Brave, and La Jota wineries. Working with Chris, Laura was exposed to some of the best mountain and valley-floor vineyard sites in California and gained experience with native fermentations.

By 2011, Laura knew she was ready to launch her own project and did so in collaboration with Jackson Family Wines. Out of a desire to create a brand that embodied both her European upbringing and the freedom she had in the New World, she created Galerie wines, a brand focused on presenting “portraits of place” from some of Northern California’s most prized appellations. Laura says, “I wanted to bring European style to my winemaking and make wines that were unforgettable.”

After six and a half years with Galerie as its winemaker, Laura joined Ehlers Estate as winemaker and general manager in mid-2018. She brought along a winemaking perspective rooted in the Old World and shaped by a broad cross-selection of cultures, regions, and vineyard sites. Driven by a never-ending desire to learn and experiment, Laura believes that winemaking is a process of discovery, that minimal intervention is done in the cellar, and that the process of understanding the needs of each individual vine in the vineyard never ends. As she says, “My greatest aspiration is to make wines which are reflective of the unique fruit and minerality character of the Ehlers Estate vineyard, with long finishes and distinct textures that are difficult to forget on the palate.”

Laura resides in Santa Rosa with her husband and their two sons. She brings her work home every day as her husband is also a wine lover and professional. Together with their sons, they love to explore new wines and travel the world. Laura can often be found hiking in the nearby mountains