Early in winemaker Virginia Marie Lambrix’s career, the Russian River Valley served as her laboratory for developing an interest in the fruit and farming there. While winemaker and viticulture specialist for Truett Hurst in the Dry Creek Valley, Virginia expressed her fascination by making small lots of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. The label distinction was made by using her initials, VML. After convincing one of her partners, Phil Hurst, to take a walk through some of the Russian River Valley vineyards she was familiar with, the notion of getting more deeply entrenched in the region came to pass. VML Winery was founded in the Spring of 2011.
VML’s Single Vineyard wines are meant to capture the imagination by highlighting unique and beautiful pieces of terroir within the Russian River Valley. Virginia explains that the beauty of wines from the Russian River Valley is how they reflect the specific vineyard sites. The winemaker should stay out of the way of what the terroir expresses – guiding the fruit and resisting the temptation to manipulate the wines. The wines at VML let the vineyard sources speak for themselves. Despite the trend to tone down Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs, a force of nature in our vineyards delivers wines that are big, bold, and full flavored.
Our specialty is Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but we like to play, so there is sparkling wine, Gewürztraminer, Zinfandel and Syrah. Our winemaking style can be really characterized by “walking the line”. We like to have feminine, pretty wines but also with a fair amount of extraction and depth. So finding that balance is a big part of how we do things, and the style with which we make our wines. While we are incredibly serious about our winemaking we hope that you enjoy them in a playful and interesting environment. Our garden is absolutely stunning with life size Jenga and all sorts of little treats that can be tasted throughout.
Virginia Marie Lambrix – Winemaker
While on vacation in South Africa, Virginia Lambrix tasted her first “serious wine.” At that time, she had received her B.A in Psychology from Colgate University, NY and was working for the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. Captured always by a love of nature and the out of doors, she determined it was time to learn about the art of the vineyard – viticulture. Within a year, Virginia was studying horticulture and agronomy in the master’s program at the University of California, Davis, with an emphasis on viticulture and enology. Upon graduation from UC Davis, she worked at the Hendry Ranch in Napa, in Chile for Concha y Toro. In 2004, Virginia visited a Biodynamic farm in Chile, and again, was captured.
It was immediately clear to her that its principals of respecting nature and nurturing ecology within the vineyard made sense in both a scientific framework and on an intuitive level. She embraced the philosophy and made a point to study and implement its principals at every opportunity. With this knowledge she returned to work in California for Lynmar and De Loach Vineyards, both in the Russian River Valley. During her 3 years at De Loach Vineyards, Virginia worked closely with her growers moving their vineyards to more sustainable farming methodologies and in the process, improving quality and moderating farming costs. Her mentor at De Loach, Greg La Follette, taught her to understand both vineyards and winemaking at an intuitive level.
Working side by side with winemakers, Hugh Chappelle at Lynmar Estate and Greg La Follette, Virginia couldn’t help but to follow their winemaking with interest and began making wine. In 2008 she began making wine for Truett Hurst Winery. Bringing her former background in the Russian River Valley to the attention of the Truett Hurst team she added Russian River Valley wines to the winery’s portfolio. Today she oversees winemaking for the brands of Truett Hurst Inc. consisting of VML Winery in Russian River Valley, named for Virginia (Virginia Marie Lambrix), Truett Hurst wines in Dry Creek Valley, Simply Pure from Mendocino County, as well as the Bradford Mountain, Healdsburg Ranches, and Sauvignon Republic brands.
Virginia is a strong advocate for alternative agriculture. She is currently on the Demeter Board for education on biodynamic farming with the goal of developing educational resources for farmers that are pursuing biodynamic farming.