Recently I was chatting with Kris Curran of Curran Wines, D’Alfonso Curran, and Badge. She is a female winemaker who grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley and has certainly made her mark in the wine industry!
Animal Science Degree turned Winemaker: her love for animals helped her passion for science which, in turn, led her to earn an animal science degree at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She was enthusiastic and intrigued about the scientific side of winemaking while working with Bruno at Sanford Winery. Here she received her second bachelors from Fresno in winemaking. When speaking with Kris, it was as if I was speaking with an old friend. She happened to be walking with her dogs through the vineyard when I called, and we chatted for almost an hour about life, her love for wine, Spanish grape varietals, and her career.
Kris began as an assistant winemaker at Cambria and later became a founding winemaker at Koehler and then at Sea Smoke Cellars, where she produced seven vintages; she’s a rockstar! After leaving Sea Smoke, she worked as winemaker for Foley Wines from 2008 to 2010. Kris is known for crafting Pinot Noir, although her passion is Spanish and Rhone varietals, which they do produce as well. She was the first California vintner to popularize Grenache Blanc, which Curran started making in 2003. The Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris sold out in 2014 due to the great quality and vintage.
Her husband Bruno, Kris, and one assistant winemaker (plus two beautiful German Shepard’s) makeup the entire winemaking team. Together they produce wines with Tempranillo grapes, Rhone Varietals such as Grenache and Syrah, as well as some Italian favorites like Sangiovese that grow very well within the Santa Barbara region.
What I enjoyed hearing most from Kris was not only about her passion and love for winemaking, but how embraced women are within the winemaking, marketing, and PR industry. She has had wonderful career experiences and with her degree, was easily accepted and integrated into this fascinating wine world. Kris explains, to those women seeking a career in wine is to get your degree. “It’s a different kind of door opener and puts you on a level playing field”- Kris Curran. I couldn’t agree more with her, as I have many degrees and am so grateful and thankful for the opportunities they bring to me everyday.
Have you visited the Santa Barbara Region? This region is gorgeous and produces some stunning wines! For those of you seeking some wines from this region, I recommend trying and tasting anyone of the Bruno D’Alfonso & Kris Curran wine brands.