After more than 17 years producing some of Tuscany's most renowned wines in Bolgheri, Ornellaia winemaker Axel Heinz is going back to Bordeaux. Wine Spectator has learned that Lawrence Wine Estates has hired Heinz to serve as CEO of Château Lascombes. Partners Gaylon Lawrence and Carlton McCoy purchased the Margaux second growth six months ago.
"Axel is a master of his craft and the work he has done while overseeing Ornellaia and Masseto have taken this already heralded estate to new heights," said McCoy, CEO of Lawrence Wine Estates. "I am thrilled to work with Axel to bring Château Lascombes to its full potential as one of the greatest wine estates in the world."
Heinz has been estate director of Ornellaia and Masseto in the Bolgheri region of Tuscany since 2015, after starting as winemaker for Ornellaia in 2005. He has earned a reputation as one of the world's top winemakers during his time there. Born in Germany, Heinz grew up in Bordeaux, studied agronomy with a specialization in viticulture and enology at the University of Bordeaux and worked at Château La Tour Carnet and other Bordeaux wineries during his early career.
"In life, there are moments where you feel you must make important steps," Heinz told Wine Spectator. "For personal reasons, for my family and professional reasons, it was time to go back home. I'm half Bordelais, so it was time to make the move."
He added that he felt Ornellaia was in good hands. "I'll do my best to make a great transition. We have a seasoned team and I'm sure they will continue to do great work."
Gaylon Lawrence owns one of the largest farming empires in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of acres of cotton, rice, corn and citrus stretching across parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois and Florida. He owns eight regional banks in the South as well as large real-estate ventures in his hometown of Nashville and in the San Francisco Bay Area.
He grabbed the wine world's attention in 2018 when he purchased the historic Heitz Cellar in Napa. Since then, he has bought or launched several other boutique wineries and founded an import/distribution firm called Demeine Estates. Lascombes has a long history dating back to the 17th century, but local industry members say it needs investment.
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