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Kellie Duckhorn
 
April 22, 2015 | Kellie Duckhorn

Where will the grape take you?

My life has been blessed by the wine grape. Without it, I would never have experienced the world! Where to begin? …perhaps 1973 is a good place to start. My father chased the wine grape to St. Helena and the family tagged along. My brothers and I had an amazing childhood…all of the things that come with distracted parents and plenty of open space…babysitting for us was an inflated tractor tire tube, a PB&J sandwich wrapped in wax paper, and a float down the Napa River between Lodi Lane and Zinfandel. Between snags, lizards and pure fun, my parents were guaranteed at least 3 uninterrupted hours of work!
 
Zinfandel Lane Bridge

My first harvest was in 1978, and that’s when I really started to understand what family business means…hard work, laughter and a sense of accomplishment at the end of a long day. As the years passed, I participated in all aspects of the business and with each harvest, I could better feel the rhythm of our industry…agriculture has a particular energy, a unique ability to connect us to the planet at odd hours of the day. My favorite moments were, and still are, pre-dawn when the world begins its slow yawn and awakens, one layer at a time.

  

Duckhorn Vineyards, 1978  Downtown Ludon-Medoc, France

The wine grape has taken me to France, on numerous occasions. The Nadalié family has been supplying barrels to generations of wine producers and I have beautiful memories of stacking barrel staves, late night moped escapades and even a harvest at Château Palmer. The Médoc is my other Napa Valley, a place that is also time arrested with traditions and family meals mixed together with the city vibe of Bordeaux.

Because of the wine grape I have hosted visitors from afar, opening up my home as others have opened theirs to me, and my sons and I have had young interns from France and Spain share their lives with us, creating bonds and stories to pass on to their children. Our friends are also largely in the business as this industry has a very blurred line between the private and the professional life…we are kindred souls, those of us who chase the wine grape, and as such, our lives like vines, intertwine and twist together throughout the years. Through these connections, my son, Peter, has crushed grapes in Portugal, at Quinta do Tedo, while my son Ian was rescued from Amsterdam, without question, by a dear friend from Decanter magazine.
 
Quinta do Tedo, Portugal (Peter on the far right)   

Wine Education Seminar, Via Pacifica Selections Shanghai, China

China has been a huge part of my wine inspired travel…my brother David has spent the past 7 years creating a following for fine California wine in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Chengdu with his company, Via Pacifica Selections. The wine grape has introduced me to a culture and created friendships with this amazing country that is so big, so energetic, so interested in our western ways.

Finally, like a boomerang, I have returned to the Napa Valley. I am deeply grateful to be part of the Baldacci Family winery and all that they represent. The team here is so committed to the best of our industry…the agricultural heritage, the shared meals, the never ending overlap of personal and professional life…come visit us and let the wine grape lead you to your next adventure! 
 
Classic Wine Tasting, Baldacci Family Vineyards

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707-944-9261
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