Larkmead Vineyards Hires New Assistant Winemaker, Avery Heelan
Calistoga, Calif—Larkmead Vineyards is pleased to announce its most recent hire, Avery Heelan, who joins the winemaking team as Assistant Winemaker. Heelan will be working alongside Winemaker Dan Petroski. The appointment is effective immediately.
In her new position, Heelan will not only be managing the cellar and day-to-day wine production, but will also explore the data and trends in Larkmead’s history, examining grape growing, fermentation management, elevage, and bottle aging over time. Heelan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help further Larkmead’s commitment to quality and consistency in their winemaking. “Avery will play a significant role in helping Larkmead understand its past winemaking decisions in order to help sharpen its focus for the future,” said Winemaker Dan Petroski.
Heelan holds an M.S. in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry from the University of California, Davis, and comes to Larkmead with extensive experience in the wine industry. Most recently, Heelan served as the Cellar Master for Screaming Eagle Vineyards in Napa, where she assisted in all aspects of winery operations including the vineyards and ranch.
Prior to Screaming Eagle, Heelan held positions internationally as Vintage Assistant Winemaker at Domaine Yves Boyer Martenot in Meursault, France, and as a Vintage Enologist at Capel Vale Winery in Western Australia. Her career began at CADE Estate Winery in St. Helena, where Heelan worked as a Harvest Cellar Intern. “I am excited to enter the next phase of my winemaking career with Larkmead Vineyards,” Heelan commented. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work at a prestigious estate that’s steeped in a 125-year history, alongside Winemaker Dan Petroski.”
Outside of her work experience, Heelan has an extensive educational background related to the field of winemaking. Heelan served as a teaching assistant at U.C., Davis, in the OIV Wine Marketing Program, the Analysis of Wines and Musts Laboratory, and Wine Technology/Winery Systems program. Heelan also received her WSET Level 3 Advanced Certification and completed a Terroir and Vineyard Management Course in Bordeaux, France.
The historic Larkmead estate is one of the oldest family-owned establishments in Napa Valley. Originally founded in 1895, Larkmead is now under the stewardship of proprietors Cam Baker and Kate Solari Baker. Kate’s parents, Larry and Polly Solari, purchased Larkmead in 1948. Kate spent her childhood in the valley, exploring a bygone Napa dominated by prune and walnut orchards, hayfields, cattle ranches, and acres of empty fields. Her parents were aware of Larkmead’s storied past and sought to honor its legacy, a philosophy they passed down to Kate and her husband.
The Bakers have been the dynamic force behind Larkmead’s transformation from a historic vineyard into a world-renowned wine estate. During the first 10 years of their ownership, they directed a complete replanting of the property, tailoring the selection of varieties, clones, and rootstock to suit the special characteristics of each individual block. In 2005, they built the first phase of a state-of-the-art winery on the property so that each vineyard block could have its own dedicated vinification tank. Designed by architect Howard Backen, an old family friend, the farmhouse and production facility are both classic and comfortable, providing a place for peaceful reflection away from a busy and demanding world. These days, Cam and Kate’s children and grandchildren are often found at the estate, continuing the family tradition at Larkmead into its fourth generation.