Laura Catena interview Part Two 11-8-2023

Dr. Laura Catena is managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata, one of Argentina’s leading wineries, and spokesperson for the brand. This is part two of my recent interview.

• What is the greatest challenge running a large wine operation?

We run our family winery like a small winery—every parcel of vineyard gets vinified separately and we have no recipes. Each parcel is tasted during fermentation and aging and our vinification philosophy is to do little, and let the innate character of each place shine. This takes a lot of time and effort, but it is ingrained in our winery culture and thinking all day long is the Catena way. The greatest challenge is the fluctuation of the Argentine economy (current inflation is 120%). For me the key to success is to hire perfectionist creatives with focus on “perfectionist”. It is easier to teach creativity than perfectionism.

Dr. Laura Catena

• Do you enjoy being the face of Catena?

I like/love people. That’s why I became a doctor. My job is to share our wines and our stories with wine drinkers around the world. It’s a privilege to have the job of making the family’s wines and ensuring our family winery’s success over hopefully another 200 years (I am on the 200 year plan because short term does not work for wine and viticulture). So to answer your question, I enjoy it, but am eager for the next generation to take over some of my ambassador job so that I can spend more time in the vineyard.

• Are you and your brother Ernesto competitors or mutually supportive? What role does your father Nicolás now play in operations?

My brother and I are partners in Catena, but we also have our separate wine projects. We help each other whenever we can. My father is still very involved, but I always have the final say. My father has been the best mentor and teacher imaginable. He whole heartedly supports me in my current managing director position.

• What are your plans for succession and the future of your operation?

The Catena winery was founded in 1902 by an Italian vintner immigrant to Argentina, Nicola Catena. I am the current family head of the business. My siblings Ernesto and Adrianna are working in wine in different branches of the family business. Our family philosophy is to not pressure the new generations to join the business. The next generation is still quite young, in school or working in other fields: human rights, chemistry, banking, psychology.

Last round: What do you call birds who stick together? Vel-crows. Wine time.