Walt Klenz Wine Business Speakers: Laura Catena

Group shot
From left: David Block, professor and chair, Department of Viticulture and Enology; Laura Catena, Managing Director, Catena Zapata, and Founder, Catena institute of Wine; Walt Klenz, CEO Beringer Blass Wine Estates (Ret.); Andrew Waterhouse, director, Robert Mondavi Institute. Photo credit: Alana Joldersma.

About the event:

Author. Physician. Winemaker. Not many people are all three. “I thought that I was going to spend my life working as a doctor and drinking my family's wines, not making them,” said Laura Catena, who splits her time between practicing emergency medicine in San Francisco and running her family’s winery, Catena Zapata, in Argentina. Winemaking, like medicine, says Catena, is both art and science. “Walking into a patient’s room and knowing how sick a person is by just watching them talk and breathe requires the same kind of skill as knowing if a young wine will age.” This perspective (and expertise) has given Catena Zapata an uncommon edge. Wrote the Wine Spectator, “Catena Zapata is world-renowned for revolutionizing the quality and reputation of Argentine Malbec, and Catena is a fierce advocate for the estate, the region and the grape.” Laura’s father, Nicolas Catena Zapata—often referred to as “the Robert Mondavi of Argentina”—helped usher Argentine Malbec onto the world stage, a legacy she continues. Today, Laura’s work has appeared everywhere from the New York Times to NPR, and has seen her named “the face of Argentinian Wine.”

Laura Catena spoke at the institute on Thursday, May 30, as part of the Walt Klenz Wine Business Speakers series. Her talk, “How Science Can Preserve the Ancient Art of Winemaking,” explored the ways modern science is helping to preserve this ancient beverage.