Avery Heelan

Avery Heelan

Larkmead Vineyards (Winemaker)

Avery Heelan was born and raised in New England. Fascinated with understanding the basis of all living things, she earned a B.S. in chemistry from Northeastern University in Boston. After graduating, she worked in the pharmaceutical industry, first in drug discovery, then on the marketing side. Although she found this fulfilling, Avery was growing more and more interested in the fermentation of foods and beverages.

Good food and wine were a centerpiece of family meals when she was growing up, and her parents loved visiting Napa Valley. On one fateful visit there, a local in the industry recommended that she look into the wine-related programs at the University of California, Davis. Within a few short months, she had applied, was accepted, and headed for California.

Avery earned an M.S. degree in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry, with a specialization in Viticulture & Enology at Davis. While there, she served as a teaching assistant in the Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin Wine Marketing Program (OIV), the Analysis of Wines and Musts Laboratory, and the Wine Technology/Winery Systems course. She worked under the direction of Professor Andrew L. Waterhouse for her degree. Her academic program included experience as a harvest cellar intern (in 2015) at CADE Estate Winery in St. Helena.

After completing her degree, Avery honed her skills internationally by holding harvest positions for two harvests in 2016, first at Capel Vale Winery in Western Australia as vintage assistant winemaker and then at Domaine Yves Boyer Martenot in Meursault, France as vintage enologist. Upon her return to California, she served as cellar master at Screaming Eagle from 2017 to 2019 before joining the Larkmead Vineyards team in mid-2019.

In mid-2021, Avery was promoted from associate winemaker to winemaker at Larkmead. This new role brings the responsibilities of overseeing all winemaking and vineyard activities and continuing climate action and research initiatives with the winery’s research block. Completion of a Terroir and Vineyard Management Course in Bordeaux, France, and holding a Level 3 Advanced Certification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust are additional credentials that Avery brings to her position as winemaker.

When not at the winery, Avery loves spending time outdoors, hiking, enjoying a glass of wine on the coast, and swimming laps daily. She loves to cook, especially when it comes to making homemade pasta, and does ceramics on the side, using her own pottery wheel. Ella, her Golden Retriever, is a constant companion and the most valuable, albeit unpaid, “employee” at Larkmead!