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Famed Sparkling Winemaker and Partner of New Mexico’s Vara Winery & Distillery, Laurent Gruet, Welcomes His Nephew and Longtime Mentee, Sofian Himeur, as Winemaker

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(Nov. 27, 2023; Albuquerque, N.M.)—VARA Winery & Distillery CEO and General Manager JP Clement and Laurent Gruet, partner and winemaker at VARA, are thrilled to announce that Sofian Himeur has joined the VARA team as winemaker at the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based urban winery and distillery, located at 6770 4th Street NW. Raised in New Mexico, Sofian grew up with his uncle Laurent Gruet as a mentor, and over the last two decades, has worked in nearly every aspect of wine production and sales. Sofian was most recently head winemaker at Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma, one of the leading producers in California. Himeur joins a team of all-star artisans on the VARA team, including Laurent Gruet, Bob Lindquist, Louisa Sawyer Lindquist and Djuna Benjamin.

“With a strong background in New Mexico winemaking, Sofian brings an exciting perspective to our roundtable of experts that reflects his next generation thinking as well as his family’s deeply rooted heritage in the state,” says Clement. “Laurent put New Mexico on the winemaking map with his outstanding sparkling wines, and with Sofian in the cellar with him, we’re confident VARA sparkling wine will continue to grow on the national stage.” 

Himeur will assist Gruet in spearheading VARA’s world-class sparkling wines: the Silverhead Brut NV (SRP $25) and Silverhead Brut Rosado NV (SRP $27), as well as for the soon-to-be-launched VARA x LG line of wines. Born in Troyes, France, Himeur is the grandson of Gruet Winery founder Gilbert Gruet and moved to New Mexico as an infant. Himeur holds his associate degree in Business Administration and Management from Central New Mexico Community College and has learned everything there is to know about wine at his uncle’s side. He began his career in wine at Gruet Winery, where he served as production manager, and sales and marketing specialist, before spending five years as assistant winemaker. He further expanded his expertise in sparkling winemaking as operations winemaker at Domaine Chandon followed by two years as head winemaker at Iron Horse in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. 

“It’s wonderful to return to New Mexico and carry on my family’s long history of producing outstanding wine in the Land of Enchantment,” says Himeur. “I am excited to dig into our vineyard partnerships and blending program and continue making excellent wines at VARA.”

When not in the cellar, Himeur enjoys spending his time with his son, Leon, cheering on Paris Saint Germain and the 49ers, and playing golf. 

About VARA Winery & Distillery

Founded in 2016, VARA is an Albuquerque-based urban winery and distillery that brings together a passionate circle of professionals who use innovative techniques to create wines and spirits that express a uniquely New Mexican point of view. VARA is inspired by both New Mexico’s boundary-pushing culture as well as the state’s history of winemaking, which spans nearly 400 years and is as rich and storied as the region’s colorful landscapes. VARA Winery & Distillery produces still, sparkling, and fortified wines, along with brandy, gin, rum, and vodka. VARA has a tasting room in Albuquerque, located at 315 Alameda Blvd. NE, as well as a tasting room in Santa Fe, located at 329 W. San Francisco St. Their tasting rooms offer wine and spirits flights as well as a curated selection of cocktails and tapas. Please visit varawines.com for hours of operations and reservations. 

For more information about VARA Winery & Distillery, please visit www.VARAwines.com and www.VARAspirits.com.

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  • Instagram: @VARAwine
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