While attending UC Davis, Kristin Belair serendipitously stumbled upon an answer to a daunting career puzzle – for someone unable to choose between a multitude of disciplines, winemaking was an elegant solution.

In 1981, degree in Enology in hand, Kristin began her first of two California harvests, as an intern at Trefethen. It was there that she perfected forklift driving, cleaning tanks, and topping barrels while learning a lot about small winery operations. A southern hemisphere harvest experience in Australia taught her even more. Kristin’s first full winemaking position began in 1985, making Cabernet and Chardonnay at Johnson-Turnbull (which later became Turnbull Wine Cellars). In 1998, after working at one facility for nearly 13 years, she joined Honig as Winemaker. Kristin says that “being able to craft award-winning, nationally recognized Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon and being part of the dynamic Honig team has been nothing but rewarding. For me, what is most satisfying is knowing that I play a part in creating something that people are enjoying in many different settings, with family and friends. Wine has an extraordinary way of connecting together people, places, and experiences.”

When she’s not feeding her passion for winemaking and growing grapes, Kristin can generally be found engaging in some kind of outdoor activity. Her current favorites are skiing, running, mountain biking, and climbing.

 


Most people in this industry can trace their love of wine to a specific wine that ignited their passion. Do you have a wine like that? If not, how did you get interested in the industry?

I don’t have a particular wine that got me interested in the wine industry. It was rather a synchronous crossing paths with a classmate at UC Davis, who had just switched his major to Winemaking. I was in biochem at the time and contemplating how on earth I would pass a year of upper division physical chemistry. His enthusiasm inspired me to investigate the winemaking path and the rest is history.

 

The hardest thing about winemaking is…

Bottling! While it mostly goes smoothly it can get tedious and be fraught with complications, even with lots of prior planning.

 

What’s the most rewarding thing about your career?

The people I work with and the places I work in. Early mornings in a vineyard are so beautiful. And, the stories people share about the wine they enjoyed.

 

 

What advice would you give to people who wanted to get into the industry?

Patience, persistence, passion.

 

As a winemaker, have you ever made a mistake in a vintage?

There are new things to learn from every vintage. What we initially may think of as a mistake becomes a window to refining our methods.

 

What your most listened to Spotify/Pandora/Sirius station?

Usually, some form of rock, but I’ll switch it up to jazz or classical pretty regularly.

 

If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one drink (not your own brand), what would it be?

Beer! A nice hoppy IPA.

Want to try some of Kristin's wines? You can now buy them online and pick them up in store!


“15 Questions with…” is an ongoing series of interviews with some of the most interesting people in our industry. 

James “Jim” Morrison serves as the National Sales Director for Copper Cane Wine & Provisions. He’ll be in our store on Friday on May 27, from 4-7pm.

1)Tell us a little bit about what it means to be a National Sales director and some the challenges that come with that position.

I’m the first face, voice, messenger to our retail customer regarding the Portfolio Joe Wagner is creating. I know and love wine, but do NOT consider myself a wine Expert or Master Somm, my real expertise is consulting to navigate a highly complicated route to market. Understanding the Distributor/wholesale network, different state and often within state legalities. Championing our products in an increasingly competitive landscape. Trumpeting a voice to the gate-Keepers of the industry.

 

2) How did you first get into the industry?

Recruited off the campus of the University of Missouri to E & J Gallo Winery. Territory sales with graduating levels of responsibility starting in Oklahoma, Moving through Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, and Chicago.

 

3) What’s the most rewarding thing about your career? Selling is a simple equation – “A transfer of enthusiasm”. My father taught me this early in my career. We sell more than just grape juice in a bottle, wine is an experience for people to `enjoy with people they want to be with doing activities they enjoy. People remember their first experience with a particular wine, where they were, who they were with. It’s a great Mental Paycheck to see someone “Get it” when they experience our wines.

 

4) Who are the people in your industry that your most admire?

Joe Wagner – His passion to make something great. His Vision to build on what he was given. Chuck Wagner – The vision and discipline to start his own winery with his dad and build it into what it is today. Jim Schroeder – A manager I worked for early in my career at Gallo, he taught me how to interact with people and create relationships. Marvin Shankins – His vision for educating people about wine. Robert Mondavi – His vision for Napa, starting over after being fired from his families company and creating Napa.

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5) What’s your favorite childhood memory?

Family gatherings – Coming from a large family, my Grandmother was one of 18 children, Grandfather on of 11. Our family reunions were a festival and it was fun to see my cousins and watch my parents interact with people they loved and made time to be with. The food and drink were always at the center of every gathering. Watching my Dad tease and laugh with my uncles.

 

6) What are your favorite books or movies?

Books – Mark Twain “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” Malcolm Gladwell “David & Goliath” George Orwell “1984” Movies – Cool Hand Luke The Outlaw Josey Wales Shawshank Redemption

 

7) What your most listened to Spotify/Pandora/Serius station?

Comedy Channel, NPR, Classis Vinyl

 

8) If you weren’t making wine, what career would you have?

Tour guide – Wine Country, historic sites or interesting cities or comedian – I love to make people laugh.

 

9) What advice would you give to people who wanted to get into the industry?

Understand the business and logistics of the industry. While romantic, it’s really about making great product and figuring out the most efficient way to get it to the consumer. The first several years are labor intensive and not very romantic.

 

10) What’s your dream vacation? Traveling with my kids. We’ve been all over the world and there is still so much to see! Exploring new places, figuring out how to get around and communicate with other cultures/languages.

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11) What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?

Watching TV! I love to lay back on the couch and Veg-Out! But almost never do, and when I do I feel guilty about all the things I could/should be doing. I’m getting better about this with age, the guilty part that is!

 

12) Hometown?

Rogers AR – 16 years and just now feels like home

 

13) If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one drink (not your own brand), what would it be?

Tough one – Either Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay or Jameson Irish Whiskey

 

14) What person has been most influential in building your career?

My wife Bridget. While my father taught me work ethic and several folks have influenced experience and skill sets, my wife has made me the success I am most proud of. Always supportive, collaborative. She “Get’s” me and makes me want to continuously improve.

 

15) Where do you see yourself and your brand in 5 years?

I’ve never been good at this! I believe in focusing on here and now and putting energy behind excelling at the task at hand. Competing, reacting, and growing relationships as I go. I can’t control everything, but I can control what I do, how I interact with those I come in contact with. Things happen for a reason, whatever that is, and I’ve learned that nothing is ever as good as you think or as bad as it seems. 5 years from now I hope to be doing something similar to today, loving those around me and putting energy into something that stimulates and excites me!

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Mira Winery was founded in 2009 by Jim “Bear” Dyke and winemaker Gustavo A. Gonzalez. Their goal was to make simple and elegant wines that captured a true expression of both the grapes and the vineyards. In 2013, the winery decided to try something that had never been done before: to completely rethink the traditional aging process. That February, Dyke and Gonzalez decided to see what would happen if instead of aging their wines in oak they aged them the ocean.

The idea was novel enough. Wine has been aged for centuries in oak barrels largely because of French tradition. The water would certainly be cold enough for the wine, but what would the rocking of the waves do? Would it speed up the aging process? Maybe slow it down? No one was sure, but everyone was excited by the thought. The winery submerged 48 bottles of their 2009 cabernet sauvignon 60 feet below South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor.

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Three months later, the bottles were removed and tested. According to Dyke, the wine tasted as if it had been aged for years. He has was so pleased with the experiment that the winery decided to try it again, this time submerging 96 bottles for 6 months. This wine was eventually sold exclusively to members of the winery’s wine club.

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So, where can you get your hands on an ocean-aged bottle of wine these days? Well, that’s where things get a bit tricky.

The government soon caught wind of Mira’s little project and the winery was investigated by the Alcohol and Tabacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and it shut the operation down over fears that the wine might be contaminated. Though this claim was never proven by the TTB, the forced Mira to cease all of their oceanic aging practices. Now, only a small number of bottles remain in the cellars of a lucky few.

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While it’s not longer aged in the ocean, you can still taste some of Mira’s incredible wines at tour tasting event on Wednesday, May 18 from 5-7pm. Winery owner Jim Dyke will be on hand to talk about his winery and to answer your question. Click here to read an interview with him. 


“15 Questions with…” is an ongoing series of interviews with some of the most interesting people in our industry. 

Whether it was building a garden with his brother in the alley behind their house or riding the tractor through the fields with his grandfather, there has always been something peaceful about growing things for Jim Dyke, owner of Mira Winery. He still wonders at the beauty of the cycle that produces grapes each season and is amazed at the process that evolves the grapes into wine. One of his first jobs after a stint at the Senate Parking Lot upon graduating from the University of Arkansas was as Assistant Brewmaster at one of the first Microbreweries in the country, Capital City Brewing Company. Here, Jim answers our questions in advance of his tasting on May 18, 2016, from 5-7pm.

1)The hardest thing about winemaking is…

Working with nature and all the uncertainty that it brings.

 

2) How did you first get into the industry?

Making beer in WDC when I graduated from college. A number of years later I met world renowned winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez and we both thought it was an incredible opportunity to partner and do something special.

 

3) What’s the most rewarding thing about your career?

The people. The people I work with every day who are so dedicated to being exceptional. The people I meet who try/drink our product. Its never dull and so many people are so interesting.

 

4) Who are the people in your industry that your most admire?

Steve Schweizer who owns a 40-acre vineyard in the heart of the Stags Leap District of Napa. Every year he produces exceptional grapes and every year he has different weather. And he is always calm as a cucumber.

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5) What’s your favorite childhood memory?

Playing soccer in Razorback Stadium for the U11 state championship.

 

6) What are your favorite books or movies?

Wedding Crashers just above the classics (Caddy Shack, Stripes, Animal House) and Unbroken (the book).

 

7) What your most listened to Spotify/Pandora/Serius station?

Y2kountry

 

8) If you weren’t making wine, what career would you have?

Politics

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9) What advice would you give to people who wanted to get into the industry?

If you don’t have 30 years – don’t start. It’s a long haul and you have to find rewards in small sometimes hidden places.

 

10) What’s your dream vacation?

A beach, preferably pink sand but I am not too picky.

 

11) What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?

Cigars

 

12) Hometown?

Charleston, SC but I was born and raised in Little Rock and went to the U of A so I still consider it home.

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13) If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one drink (not your own brand), what would it be?

Grey Goose Vodka

 

14) What person has been most influential in building your career?

Gustavo Gonzalez, Mira Co-founder

 

15) Where do you see yourself and your brand in 5 years?

Widely acclaimed as one of the premier producers in the world.



 

St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery is the largest family owned, sustainably farmed and estate produced winery in Napa Valley. Both the land the wine is grown on and the St. Supéry winery are certified Napa Green.

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The winery was founded by the Skalli Family who began making wine in 1920. In the 1970’s the family patriarch, Robert Skalli spent eight years searching for the perfect location to expand his family’s business to Napa Valley. He eventually selected a relatively unknown area high in the northeastern mountains of the newly established Napa Valley appellation. Over thirty years later, the world-class vineyard estates in Napa Valley were sold to Chanel. Inc.

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St. Supéry is known for their long-term commitment to the vineyards and winery, and it’s owners are personally invested in acting as stewards of the land, preserving the properties for future generations. St. Supéry’s Napa Green Certifications for the winery and vineyards are evidence of this commitment. This approach and long-term investment in Estate properties also gives St. Supéry the ability to maintain consistency in grape and wine quality over time.

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Among St. Supéry’s most famous vineyards is the Dollarhide Ranch. In 1982, the Skalli Family acquired the land which had formerly been a cattle and horse ranch that dates back to the late 1800s. Dollarhide is a 1,531-acre property with steep and rolling hills, some flat lands, seven lakes, and plenty of wildlife. Currently, there are almost 500 acres of grapevines at Dollarhide, leaving the rest of the property to thrive in its natural state. The oldest vines at Dollarhide Ranch, now almost 30 years old, produce the full-bodied, robust cabernet sauvignon and distinctive sauvignon blanc on which St. Supéry Estate’s reputation was built.

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Michael Scholz, St. Supéry Estate’s winemaker (click here to read an interview with him), and his vineyard team have a broad selection of soils and topography to choose from when selecting ideal vineyard sites at Dollarhide. Each parcel of vines is planted with fruit quality and distinct character in mind. These parcels are then farmed individually so that the vines will thrive in their unique locations. The Estate’s vineyard team is able to match the right soils with the optimum combination of rootstock, clone selection, and cultivation practices. The diversity of terrain at Dollarhide results in a wide selection of fruit for Michael to work with when crafting St. Supéry’s estate line of wines including their sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon, estate blends and the Dollarhide Estate single vineyard designate wines.

 


“15 Questions with…” is an ongoing series of interviews with some of the most interesting people in our industry. 


 

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Michael Scholz is St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery’s winemaker. Originally from Australia, Michael is from the 6th generation to grow up on his family’s vineyard in the Barossa Valley. Michael comes to St. Supéry from Wattle Creek, a Sonoma property in Alexander Valley. Scholz is not a newcomer to the Napa Valley or St. Supéry. He previously served as the winemaker at St. Supéry from 1996 to 2001 before returning again in 2009. During his tenure, he created the distinctive style that has made St. Supéry the benchmark producer of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. The Cabernet Sauvignons Michael created for St. Supéry garner critical acclaim from top industry publications including Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. Enologist and consultant, Michel Rolland says, “Michael Scholz is on my list of great winemakers from around the world.”

1)The hardest thing about winemaking is…

…juggling the many different facets of the job. We spend our time in the vineyards and the cellar, but then comes the management, emails, and markets. All good, but a lot to keep up with.

 

2) How did you first get into the industry?

I grew up on an old family vineyard in Australia’s Barossa Valley. Surrounded by vineyards and winemakers lead me in that direction.

 

3) What’s the most rewarding thing about your career?

We create a fantastic and unique product. It’s always terrific to see a wine come together after the grapes growing and winemaking and time involved to get to the final blend.

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4) Who are the people in your industry that your most admire?

Michel Rolland has been an inspiring individual.

 

5) What’s your favorite childhood memory?

Riding my horse in the summer around our family farm and vineyard ( and in the river – good fun)

 

6) What are your favorite books or movies?

The Harry Potter series was a fun read, and also the Hunger Games. Indiana Jones is a go too movie. Anything with Harrison Ford is always a good time.

 

7) What your most listened to Spotify/Pandora/Sirius station?

Zac Brown Band

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8) If you weren’t making wine, what career would you have?

I joke that I would love to be a rock star, but really, a vet or a horse trainer.

 

9) What advice would you give to people who wanted to get into the industry?

It’s a blast. If it interests you, it is fun. Fine food and wine is a good time. If you like farming, even better.

 

10) What’s your dream vacation?

A Surfing Vacation, but I’m not very good at it.

 

11) What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?

Again it’s the same theme. A fine bottle of wine, a couch and a good movie.

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12) Hometown?

Nuriootpa, Barrasa Valley, Australia

 

13) If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one drink (not your own brand), what would it be?

Sierra Nevada IPA – Beer

 

14) What person has been most influential in building your career?

Michel Rolland- I starting working with him in 1996 and Rolland has had quite an impact on me.

 

15) Where do you see yourself and your brand in 5 years?

We are always working to excel our brand and make better wines and in 5 years I see us continuing to do that.

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Click here to learn more about our St. Supéry Wine Tasting on April 13