Napa Valley native Maria Cortez’s rise to becoming Folie à Deux winemaker was forged by fortitude and fostered by friendship. From her aspirations as a young girl, to her achievement of her lifelong dream, Maria embraced every challenge and rose to every occasion.
Winemaking first piqued Maria’s interest in childhood, when she would relish in hearing about her father’s time over the course of more than 20 years in the vineyards. She recognized first-hand that winemaking was truly a labor of love, and an art that both captivated and inspired her.
Armed with classroom training coupled with her signature tenacity, Maria took her first steps into her ultimate career when she joined Sterling Vineyards as an intern in 2006, then as a quality assurance technician in 2007. Maria subsequently balanced returning to school with working full-time, earning her fermentation science degree from University of California–Davis in 2008. Her talent caught the attention of sister winery Beaulieu Vineyard, where she honed her skills in BV’s George De La Tour winery until 2013.
Maintaining her determination to become winemaker, Maria took a leap of faith and joined the Trinchero Family Estates team as an enologist. She began working with Folie à Deux and a sister brand in 2013 and quickly earned a promotion to senior enologist in 2014, then assistant winemaker in 2015. Friend and former colleague Domenica Totty became Folie à Deux’s winemaker in 2017; the pair enjoyed working closely together to shape the quintessential Sonoma brand and further its commitment to sustainability. Maria took the reins from Domenica in January 2020 and ultimately achieved her lifelong dream with her promotion to winemaker.
As lead winemaker for Folie à Deux, Maria crafts wines that reflect her determination and devotion as much as her grapes’ signature Sonoma sourcing across famed Russian River, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma Coast AVAs.