Molly Bohlman

Molly Bohlman

Niner Wine Estates (Winemaker)

Molly Bohlman is a native Midwesterner, having been born in Minnesota and mostly growing up in Wisconsin. She started her higher education at the University of Minnesota but a study-abroad experience in the South of France in her junior year further stimulated her interest in wine. In her own words, “I was initially drawn to wine because I thought it sounded romantic and I liked the history behind it. I also liked the idea of growing a crop that could be crafted into something that brings people joy.”

Her six-month sojourn in France planted a “bug” that led Molly to working at the University-run research vineyard and winery, where she quickly learned that growing grapes and making wine is not romantic. Nonetheless, the associated hard work appealed to her and prompted her to transfer to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in 1996. There, she earned degrees in Viticulture Management and Fruit Science while working in vineyards, wineries and a grapevine nursery in order to gain practical experience.

After graduation, Molly turned her attention more to the winemaking side of the industry, working her way up at various wineries from cellar “rat” to Enologist to Assistant Winemaker and then to Winemaker. Among the locations where she worked either as a viticulturist or winemaker are Sonoma Grapevines, Saralee’s Vineyard, J. Fritz Winery, Vina Robles Winery, and Paul Hobbs Wines, where she was winemaker for the Crossbarn brand.

In 2014, Molly joined Niner Wine Estates in Paso Robles as associate winemaker, becoming the winemaker there in 2017, focusing on producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Her own comments about these two varietals are insightful: “Pinot Noir is notoriously difficult to grow and make, but I think there are two main challenges: one is that it doesn’t blend well with other varietals. . . . The second main challenge is that it is a “transparent” wine – meaning it tends to show flaws very easily and doesn’t like manipulation. Chardonnay is much easier to make by comparison. The most difficult thing is that there are so many styles of Chardonnay – from crisp and unoaked to rich and toasty – and it is impossible to please everyone. I like to say that making white wine is easy, but making great white wine is very difficult. Getting the perfect balance of freshness, richness, and oak is a moving target, but when it all comes together it is incredible.”