Laura Catena Bodega Catena Zapata

Sometimes You Can Meet Your Heroes

There is an old expression “Never meet your heroes”. It suggests that if you meet someone you hold in high regard, you may be disappointed. After all, they are just human.

Thankfully, at this year’s Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience, the exact opposite happened to me. I was fortunate to meet one of my wine heroes, Laura Catena, and she was fantastic to speak with!

Chris and Laura Catena from Bodega Catena Zapata

Let me provide a quick background on Ms. Catena. She is the daughter of Nicolas Catena and granddaughter to Domingo Catena. It is not an understatement to say that those two people literally created the Argentine fine wine industry. Argentina started out mostly as a low-quality, bulk wine producer. But Domingo started to challenge that idea and Nicolas changed it almost completely.

Laura went into the family business. Early in her career she started her own line: La Posta Vineyards. This is a collaboration between Laura and a handful of small-family wine growers. She buys their fruit, and with esteemed winemaker Luis Reginato, they make and bottle the wines. Each wine is labeled with the family name. 

She has since become the managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata. 

Now that is certainly impressive on its own. Even more impressive is that during the “off-season” of wine growing in Argentina, Laura spends time as an emergency room doctor in San Francisco! 

I was thrilled to speak with her. She could not have been more engaging and kind. We spoke about the La Posta line and how proud she is of it. I reminded her of the Zoom tasting that I was fortunate to “attend” with her. It was a presentation featuring all female winemakers. Laura and two or three other female winemakers spoke about their wines and I was able to taste their wines as they talked. It was during the height of Covid lockdowns, and she agreed that tasting was one of the best things she was able to do during that crazy time.

Chris Culkin
Chris Culkin

WSET3 Advanced