Gretchen Voelcker

Gretchen Voelcker

Luna Hart Wines (Winemaker & Owner)

Piazza Family Wines (Winemaker)

Gretchen Voelcker found her way to California from Coatesville, PA, where she grew up surrounded by horses on her family’s lavender farm. But her interest in wine and winemaking preceded her arrival on the Left Coast. This included visits to wine regions throughout France, and a wine class in Bordeaux that opened her eyes—and nose—to “what wine could become and the poetry behind it.” Realizing during the class that she could not identify the simplest and most common scents led Gretchen to “years of smelling and tasting anything [she] could get [her] hands on.” She was attracted to “the balance of science and creativity” in winemaking and wine culture.

After high school, Gretchen first studied Business and French at Georgetown University, but soon realized that her academic interests lay elsewhere. Enrolling at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2009, she completed a B.S. in Plant Science in 2012. While in school, she completed a one-year internship in the university’s Environmental Science department. After a brief stint as a tasting room host in Santa Barbara, Gretchen joined Rideau Winery in Solvang in mid-2012 as its enologist; she left there in 2020 as the assistant winemaker.

While at Rideaux, Gretchen spent a year as production and vineyard assistant at Roark Wine Company, where she says that “He [Roark] showed me the world of garagiste, minimal interference winemaking, and taught me a lot about organic and holistic farming approaches.” To further broaden her winemaking expertise, she worked a vintage in New Zealand as a lab technician.

Gretchen launched her own brand in Buellton in mid-2014, originally naming it Moon Unit Wines. Legal challenges soon forced her rename her label as Luna Hart Wines, however. She focuses on producing Grüner Veltliner, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc. Besides managing her own production, Gretchen became the winemaker for Piazza Family Wines in Solvang in 2019. With respect to winemaking, her goal is to produce minimal-interference wines from her favorite grapes, showcasing the fruit purely and precisely.

When not involved in wine-related activities, Gretchen can be found riding horses, practicing archery, or hiking.