Winemaker Profile: Victor De La Luz

Drop by the Walla Faces winery during the week and you’re almost sure to see Walla Faces Assistant Winemaker Victor de la Luz hard at work. He’s the man responsible for the day-to-day operations at the winery and is equal parts cellar master, crisis manager, and barrel-top acrobat.

Victor de la Luz was born Pueblo Mexico, where he had no idea that he would end up in the wine industry. Indeed, he had a completely different talent. “I was a professional folk music dancer,” he laughs.

De la Luz immigrated to the United States in 2004 at age 24, where he went right into the restaurant industry, starting work at the Bonefish Grill. It was during this time that he met winemaker Matthew Loso, who let him work at Matthews Cellars in Woodinville, Washington. Victor was hired as the ‘cleaning guy’, tending to the barrels and tanks. However, his enthusiasm and hard work resulted in a quick promotion! A mere six months later he was already working with the wine, managing the pumps, taking part during “crush”, and driving the forklift. He worked at Matthews for four years.

Walla Faces Assistant Winemaker Victor De La Luz

Walla Faces Assistant Winemaker: Victor De La Luz

While working at Matthews, de la Luz met Hillary Sjolund, the winemaker at DiStefano Winery. Eager to expand his horizons, he took a part time job at DiStefano. Within one week, has passion and dedication was so clear that he was hired as a full-time employee. There, he worked in the winery’s chemistry lab. “I was allowed to do some practice in the lab and written analysis… I made so many mistakes!” he recalls.

In 2011, de la Luz made his first wine that was done all by himself: four gorgeous barrels of Petit Verdot Rosé. “I didn’t kill anybody, anyway,” he laughs. Despite his modesty, the wine showcased a natural talent for winemaking. Its combination of New World and Old World flavors, its minty notes, and its long, spicy finish showcased the best of Petit Verdot. The beautiful balance of sweetness and acidity showed that Victor had a gift.

Last year, in 2012, Walla Faces hired Victor as our new assistant winemaker. He has already contributed to the winery significantly, bringing a fresh perspective to our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Victor asserts, “I was following instructions before. Now, with [the 2007], I get to make the decisions.”

Chris Camarda Joins Walla Faces

Walla Faces is proud to welcome Chris Camarda as our new consulting winemaker. His passion, methodological nature, and uniqueness are the perfect pairing for Walla Faces wines. With the opening of our new winery and the introduction of Camarda, Walla Faces is evolving into a new, more sophisticated vintage.

Camarda is a seasoned winemaker who built his prestige on both single-varietal wines and blends that allowed the vineyard to truly shine through. By processing grapes from different locations identically, he was able to distinguish the unique characteristics of Washington vineyards. As a result, he the perfect person to showcase the rich Cabernet and Syrah grapes at the Walla Faces Estate Vineyard. As owner of Andrew Will cellars, he has also established his ability to create beautifully balanced Bordeaux-style blends that are absolute stand-outs.

Walla Faces Owner Rick Johnson, Winemaker Chris Camarda, and Assistant Winemaker Victor De La Luz

Walla Faces Owner Rick Johnson, Consultant Winemaker Chris Camarda, and Assistant Winemaker Victor De La Luz

In addition to Camarda, we are happy to announce that Victor De La Luz will be serving as our full-time Assistant Winemaker. Victor has been an essential part of our transition to the new winery, and has cared for our gorgeous barrels like a loving parent. His diligence, flair for winemaking, and contagious smile create the perfect storm out at the winery.

These new faces are the next step in developing a distinct identity in our wine. We are already known for our smooth Fusion red, approachable Syrah, luscious Cabernets, and unconventional Rieslings. This will give us even more opportunities for innovation and refinement. The 2013 wines are sure to be our most exciting vintage yet!