ffws lise asimont interview

Meet Lise Asimont, Our New VP of Grower Relations and Winery Operations

We are very excited to introduce the newest member of the Foley Family of Wines, Lise Asimont, our new Vice President of Grower Relations and Winery Operations.

Lise will play a prominent role in the success of all our winegrowing and winemaking operations, helping forge new bonds with growers, create new ones, and improve the many varying aspects of the winemaking process.

A resident of Healdsburg, California, with more than two decades of experience, Lise has enjoyed a storied career in wine. But it wasn’t exactly the kind of career she originally planned on. With experience in Santa Barbara County, Sonoma County, and Napa Valley, Lise has worked with some of California’s top wineries, with mentoring from none other than Francis Ford Coppola.

So, settle into your favorite lounger with a glass of something delicious (Chalk Hill Chardonnay, anyone?) And get to know Lise Asimont.

FFWS: How did you find your way into viticulture?

Lise Asimont (LA): I started out my college career as an organismal biology major intending to go to medical school and become a doctor like my parents. But by the time of my sophomore year, the allure of liberal arts bit me and I fell in love with anthropology. When I was considering career options, my father slyly suggested I become a winemaker because my folks were big wine lovers, and recommended I check out UC Davis. Turns out he was right, and I ended up attending UC Davis for Environmental Horticulture with a specialization in Viticulture. I loved the world of wine, but I’m the rugged outdoorsy time and prefer vineyards to cellars.

FFWS: After graduating from UC Davis, your first job in wine was working at Cambria Vineyard and Winery in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County. What were you doing there?

LA: My first job was Assistant Vineyard Manager at Cambria Vineyard and Winery. This was a BIG step up from grad school; there were 2,500 contiguous acres of vineyard, a 300+ person crew, and 25 crew leaders. I was really over my ski tips right off the bat, and I’m forever grateful to the two crew leads who took me under their wing and taught me how to farm. Santa Barbara County is one of the most challenging regions to farm in due to its unique mesoclimate, and it yields some of the best wines in the world. I got the chance to be a part of a team overseeing some big acres there and learned about the unique climate and its implications on wine quality.

FFWS: You next turned your focus to Sonoma County. How did your grower experience roles there inform your career as a grape grower and winemaker? And do you have any great Francis Ford Coppola stories?

LA: My grower relations life at Geyser Peak and The Francis Coppola Winery really formed the basis for my philosophy in grape supply and how to grow programs both in size and quality. Francis Ford Coppola is a larger-than-life person who sees the world as one big movie and he is the director. We would tour vineyards and he would sit down and share his wisdom and experiences. The most interesting thing about FFC was how he would push the boundaries on the wine industry and come up with the most amazing ideas. When someone in production inevitably told him something couldn’t be done, he would retort “who said that? Who is the THEY that says this won’t work?” and we all knew we had to realign our perspectives and start thinking outside the box. He taught me that vision is important and to think outside the box to achieve what most people think is impossible.

FFWS: After that you took on an entrepreneurial role at VinSense LLC, before moving to Cakebread in Napa. But you also launched your own label to focus on Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Tell us about that.

LA: The environment at Coppola was very entrepreneurial and I launched Dot Wine with my husband in 2016. We focus on Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, and have since started making a rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling Brut, and Zinfandel. It’s a chance for me to focus solely on one project and perfect it. I thrive in fast-paced environments where we are building something towards a common goal and sitting with just one thing and trying to perfect it was the creative yin to my professional yang. I’m so proud of my tiny wine brand, and the challenges I face as the winemaker there make me a more powerful viticulturist and grower relations person for the winemakers I serve at Foley Family Wines.

FFWS: Sustainability seems to be a thread running through all you do. It can be a nebulous term. At this moment in time, how do you define sustainability in winemaking?

LA: Sustainability is three things working in collaboration: 1) Planet (environmental stewardship), 2) People (employees, neighbors, and the community at large) and 3) Profit (financial feasibility).

I’m a scientist first, farmer second, and winemaker third. The first two parts of me always win out in my decision-making process and constantly drive my pursuit of sustainability. I’m always going to analyze situations from a scientific perspective (observe, research, hypothesize, test, report, then rinse and repeat) and approach the problem like a farmer. The farmer’s perspective is long-term because if we don’t make sustainable decisions now, we won’t have the farm tomorrow.

FFWS: What drew you to your latest role as VP of Grower Relations and Winery Operations at Foley Family Wines?

LA: This one is easy. Marty Peterson, our COO. He’s one of my “ride or die” friends in life and when he asked me to join, I answered. He’s earned this right as the energetic and guiding force in the industry who never sees boundaries and only seeks solutions. The team is comprised of the best in the industry, and it’s an honor to work alongside these experts and learn from them every day. When I joined the FFW team, I felt like I was joining the Avengers of the wine industry. I’m serious—I’ve been in the wine industry for 26 years now and it’s an honor to work here.

We have exceptional vineyards with the best farmers in the industry working them, incredibly accomplished winemakers, an ingenious and dedicated operations team, a brilliantly creative DTC team, an innovative and progressive marketing team, a cutting-edge sales team, and a beyond experienced finance team. It’s extremely fast-paced, building quickly and quality-focused. Two of the thought pillars of the company are sustainability and entrepreneurship. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?! When the call came, I put my cape on and flew right in.

Recent Articles