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Kristie Tacey

Kristie Tacey

Winemaker at Tessier Winery

Healdsburg, California

Number of Years in the Wine Business: 8

Favorite Quote: "A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world." - Louis Pasteur


Tessier Winery corks


Kristie Tacey, winemaker and founder of Tessier Winery, is a scientist turned winemaker. A former published research scientist who studied protein pathways, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from her native Michigan to pursue a career in biotechnology, which included working on the Human Genome Project. Kristie eventually came to realize that winemaking was her true calling and after working as operations manager and assistant winemaker at an award-winning East Bay winery, she started Tessier in 2009. 

Tessier is the result of Kristie’s passion for the art and science of winemaking. She began handcrafting small lots of Pinot Noir and has added Grenache, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir and Mourvedre. Kristie’s appreciation of French wines — especially those from Burgundy and the Loire and Rhone valleys — has shaped her winemaking choices. Pinot will always be her first love, and in 2017, Wine & Spirits awarded her 2014 Saveria Vineyard Pinot Noir 96 points, the highest score for that variety in the past year.

With a background in microbiology, Kristie is fascinated in the cycle of life; each vintage of Tessier wines captures and reflects one year in the lives of the vineyards she works with. She sources high-quality fruit from a strong network of farmers in the Russian River Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and El Dorado foothills. She then uses minimal-interventionist winemaking techniques to showcase the unique characteristics of the grapes and the vineyards. For Kristie, sustainability is a priority — not only with the vineyards’ farming practices, but also by having long-term relationships with her growers and customers. With an annual production of 750 cases, Kristie is able to give unparalleled attention to each wine.

I love my job because:

It is a passion business and a great lifestyle.  It involves food, wine and travel,  which always inspires me.  All facets are fascinating, from the vineyard to the cellar and then pairing food with the wines, and finally to the tables of consumers where they can enjoy the fruits of our labors. 

I got the passion to become a winemaker from:

My love of science, in particular botany, ecology and chemistry.  I love the art of it too, practicing patience, observing and tasting as the wines evolve. 

My favorite wine is:

Pinot Noir

Favorite wine to wind down with:

Sparkling wine or Champagne.

If I could drink it with anyone I would drink it with, where and why:

I would love to visit Champagne and Savoie in France to drink my favorite wines where they are made. Always love to drink with a winemaker or wine lover. 

You'd be surprised to know that:

I was born and raised in MI, but have lived in California for almost 20 years.  I’m so in love with California. 

My favorite vintage is and why:

The 2015 vintage is my favorite so far.  The concentration of flavors are amazing and it was my first vintage to do native fermentations.

What I'm excited about this year’s vintage is:

I am expanding the brand and including different varietals.  I started out making only Pinot Noir and now I make 6 different varietals.  Bottling Gamay Noir and Mourvedre this year!

One thing I hope to accomplish in my life is / my biggest accomplishment is:

My biggest accomplishment is starting my own brand and getting my first 200 cases in the bottle.  It was really stressful. 

During harvest, a day in my life is like:

Getting up before dawn, heading out to the vineyard or heading to the winery to check on fruit.  Punchdowns or footstomps, tasting the new wines or determining when the grapes will be harvested.  Documenting all notes regarding the year of the harvest, from flavors of the grapes to the young wine.  Then, planning for the next day and doing it all over again.  The smell of harvest is invigorating!

Favorite/Least cooperative grape to work with is:

Grenache is quite difficult, more difficult than Pinot Noir! There are less anthocyanins, less tannins and less acid in Grenache, so it makes it more challenging.

Biggest obstacle I’ve ever experienced in wine-making:

Driving the 24ft box trucks with fruit in the back. Always nerve racking!




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