Meet the Maker
Molly Lippitt: The Scientist Doing Big Things For Small Batch Wines
Winemaker by day…winemaker by night? Molly Lippitt is a Grenache Blanc connoisseur committed to the fact that wine is a joy — not a job.
By Logan Davis
February 27, 2022
Molly’s journey to wine
A born and raised Northern California baby, Molly Lippitt grew up in Sonoma’s wine country with a dad in the biz. And though she was familiar with the industry, she never saw it as her path.
So when college rolled around, Molly decided to follow her true passion: plants. Enamored with biology and botany, she felt certain that working with plants and the land was the right path for her — but she didn’t know the exact career. One college break she accompanied her dad to a technical wine conference and it suddenly hit her:
“They were talking plants — I loved plants. They were talking wine — and I knew wine. That was it. I finished up school and moved back to Sonoma to work at a wine lab”
What she hadn’t seen growing up in wine country was the science side, but all of a sudden everything aligned: Her scientific mind paired with her practical knowledge of wine made her an immediate asset. Molly was hooked by the production and experimentation that went into each bottle, and eventually was promoted to join in on the fermentation and winemaking process in the cellar of a local winery.
A young Molly Lippitt at the start of her winemaking career, 20+ years ago.
From there, Molly’s career took off. Humbly, she always credits the incredible mentors she's had along the way. (Like Heidi Barrett, Julien Fayard, and Philippe Melka, just to name a few.) She traveled to various wine regions, working harvests in New Zealand and taking internships throughout California, finally landing back in Napa. Spoiler: she’s been there ever since.
“The cool thing about winemaking is that it can take you around the world. But I happily landed back at home.”
Molly’s third child, Proxy
After many years learning from legendary mentors and making wine for iconic brands, Molly wanted to make a “day off varietal”. Something of her own, that she’d want to drink casually on a weekend.
As luck would have it, her professional relationships in the industry landed her with some extra Sauv Blanc grapes, so she made a wine and put her own label on it: Proxy Wines.
When asked the meaning behind the name, Molly explained that after having 2 kids, she still had a strong feeling there was something else she should be doing.
“I had human babies and was done with that kind, but I had something else I knew I wanted to nurture and create.”
So a wine brand became her third baby, by “proxy”.
Molly appreciating her newest vintage.
Since its inception in 2015, Molly has been a winemaker by day, crafting big bold Cabernets and Merlots, and a different kind of winemaker by night. Her philosophy at Proxy is to remember that wine is not just her passion, but favorite hobby. As such, she strives to make wines that feel and taste that way.
A lover of French wines, she works with mainly Rhone Varietals — but in her own way. Like avoiding aging her wine in traditional oak. More than anything, Molly wants to create something that people want to drink:
“What matters is what it tastes like; it’s the beginning and end of the story”
These days Molly lives in Sonoma with her two kids (read: wine assistants) and her dog. When not in the vineyard, she’s found hiking or biking on the trails and avoiding being inside at all costs.
Molly Lippitt enjoying the outdoors with her two kids.
Grenache Blanc — but make it canned
In 2019, Molly sipped a Grenache Blanc for the first time at a quaint bar in Napa — and was hooked.
“I loved it so much, but was never tasting the Grenache Blanc I wanted to drink.”
So, she decided to make it herself. Traditionally aged in oak, Molly wanted to take a new approach to the grape. She started her search and found an amazing small vineyard that grew Grenache Blanc. That lot is where she still gets Proxy’s grapes to this day.
Molly's first bottling of Proxy Grenache Blanc.
As for her next big experiment? Putting Grenache Blanc in cans. We had heard about this special winemaker, trained by some of the greats and doing big things in the world of wine. As it turns out, she had heard about us, too. Maker and Molly found each other, really, and it was a natural fit.
“I had zero hesitation. I love the ecological component, I love cans as a more sustainable way to serve wine. I love that you’re all women — wine has felt like a boys club for so much of my career.”
So when it came to the Maker Grenache Blanc, Molly wanted to do something special. Happiest in cooler climates, most Grenache Blanc in California is grown mid-coast near Santa Barbara. This particular grape, however, comes from a coveted AVA near Solinas called Chalone. Picky about which vineyards she works with, Molly seeks out vineyards that use organic practices and make their vines their babies — like Proxy is to her. AKA, we’re lucky to have these grapes.
Molly cracking a can of her perfected Grenache Blanc.
The Maker Granache Blanc is a fabulous expression of fruit. Typical of most Grenache Blanc, it’s clean and crisp like a Sauv Blanc, but with compelling fruit flavors of stone fruit rather than tropical fruit. Think white peach with citrus, with a fatter mouth and heavier body.
“[This wine is] like the woman that you know who has it all together but absolutely rips it up at a party — she’s got it on lock but really know how to surprise you”
Molly + the Maker team on Grenache Blanc canning day!
Molly drinks her Maker Grenache Blanc with prosciutto and melon, grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream — or paired with a dinner of fresh scallops.