A Winemaker’s Journey to the Northern California Wine Country

by Winemaker & Co-Proprietor, Kim Vance, Zoetic Wines

After I had been working in the financial industry in Houston, Texas for over 15 years, I realized something was missing. My husband and I had traveled to California’s wine country countless times and we fell in love with the beautiful rolling vineyards, glorious wineries, and fantastic wines, as many people do. But during one trip in January 2008, while meeting with a winemaker and tasting through his wines, I had expressed how excited I was to learn more about the process. He made a suggestion that I try to find a position on a harvest crew to really experience winemaking. Thinking this would never be possible, I dismissed the comment but started pondering the possibilities before we even left the parking lot! Upon returning home to Houston, I started making phone calls. (Mind you it was January and most winemakers are just getting over the long days and stressful months of the previous harvest and do not really want to think about the next harvest just yet.) Regardless, I was diligent in my pursuit to find an intern position and it didn’t take long for that far-off suggestion to become reality. Fewer than eight months later, I was back in California working as a harvest intern for a boutique winery in San Francisco.The night before my first day on the job, I was asked to ride along on a trip from San Francisco up to the Russian River Valley to pick up our first fruit of the season. I arrived at the winery at 4:30 a.m. and we arrived at the vineyard just as the pick had ended. We loaded up the bins of fruit and returned to the winery to begin processing it. The work was hard and dirty, much different than my desk job back in Houston, but I loved every minute of it! I didn’t return to my home-away-from-home until almost midnight after that first day on the job. I was completely covered with sticky grape juice from head to toe. I remember thinking at that very moment, as I began to clean up so I could crawl into bed, that this was an amazing day and something I wanted to do again and again!

I was enamored by the entire process of that first harvest internship and returned to work as a harvest intern in both 2009 and 2010 in the Russian River and Napa Valleys to work under different winemakers to increase my knowledge and experience. Between harvests, I continued to increase my knowledge by attending night school and assisting in wine tastings and educational classes. Just days after the 2010 harvest, my husband David and I packed up our belongings and made the move from Texas to California to allow me to pursue the dream of producing my own wine, Zoetic Wines, whose name means of or relating to life: living, vital. The last few years have been some of the hardest and most challenging, but I cherish the opportunity to pursue this dream and make it a reality. It has always been my hope that the wine I produce brings joy to people’s lives just as it has brought to mine.


TAGS: Zoetic Wines
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