Working with barrels
Marketta Fourmeaux, Winemaker / Owner
A native of Finland, Marketta Fourmeaux moved to France at a young age where she lived in Paris. She first earned an M.B.A. in Marketing and Business Administration, and continued her involvement in wine and enological science studies. Among her activities, she evaluated wine for the prestigious Institut National des Appellations d’Origine, and in the early 1980’s came to California to research winemaking and viticulture. Six months of daily wine tastings later, she reported: “Looks good. We stay.”
By 1988, Marketta and her then husband had moved their family to a 273-acre estate on Mount Veeder, Napa Valley to start a new life as winery owners. That winery endeavor was the successful Chateau Potelle. It was here that Marketta made her indelible mark as a viticulturist and winemaker, developing vineyards and growing grapes of great distinction from various regions in California, and producing wines internationally renowned for their balance, elegance and complexity.
Her respect for the individuality of each vine and her commitment to “hands-on” winemaking ultimately earned her the recognition as a top-ranking producer of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and elevated her beyond the label of one of the world’s first female wine producers into the ranks of the most respected winemakers in America. During this time, Marketta also created the wine style and winemaking techniques for her famed Mount Veeder Estate wines.
In 2007, Chateau Potelle was sold, and in 2008 Marketta founded Marketta Winery, a city cellar winery in historic downtown Napa.
Marketta’s mantra, passion of life…life of passion, is reflected in her chosen field. “There is an intellectual challenge of winemaking and working with the variables of nature that thrills me,” she says. “I seek to understand what the wine wants to be and then employ methods based on my observation of the changes that occur as the vines grow, grapes ripen and the wine develops.”
She constructs each wine with a minimum of technical intervention and with natural yeast fermentation to ensure that the wines retain their natural intensity and integrity, resulting in wines of extraordinary balance and finesse. “Each barrel is its own world,” says Marketta. “There’s no special trick, or any one thing that makes good wine. It’s like making a painting – you know you want green, but which green? It’s the simple work and details, the sum of every choice you make—big or small—that ultimately make the wine.”
From the planting of the vineyards to the day the wines are released, Marketta strives to keep the wines’ original character and layers of complexity. The result is wines that are, as the French say, bien élevés—well brought up, and naturally refined and civilized in the very best sense.
In addition to new vineyard development and winemaking, Marketta has overseen the vineyard management of the grapes she procures from select vineyards that are sustainably farmed and hand-harvested, block by block. She then ferments the grapes with their natural yeast to preserve the integrity of each individual block’s character.
Marketta is a member of the Napa Valley Vintners, serves as a Board member of The Wine Institute, President of the Alliance Francaise of Napa Valley, and is past president of the Mount Veeder Appellation Council. She is also a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship and wine for business executives, and is involved in several non-profit organizations with which she shares the profits of her activities.
Of special note: The French Consul General in San Francisco hosted a reception at his Private Residence in Marketta’s honor to present her with the prestigious Medaille de Chevalier de L’Ordre du Merite Agricole (past recipients include Louis Pasteur), which she was awarded by the French President and Government for outstanding achievement in her profession both in America and in France.