Winemaker Name: Kristie Tacey
Winery: Tessier Winery
Address: PO Box 9373 Berkeley, CA, 94709
Years As A Winemaker: 13
Where were you born and raised?
Tell us about your background?
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, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir, Riesling, Syrah and Mourvedre. Kristie’s appreciation of French wines — especially those from Burgundy, and the Loire and Rhone valleys — has shaped her winemaking choices.
With a background in microbiology, Kristie is fascinated by 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 Anderson Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Arroyo Seco, 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. These small production wines, an annual production of 1400 cases, get unparalleled attention.
What was your first wine job?
Lost Canyon Winery in Oakland
Describe your journey to becoming a winemaker
I started my own label in 2009 and kept working for other wineries until 2017 when I went full time for Tessier. My first start was only Pinot Noir, 200 cases and now I am up to 1500 cases, 7 different varietals!
What is it you love about this job?
I love the adventure and connecting with other passionate people. Also, it is a blend of science and art! As a scientist I had to be controlling but now as a winemaker I embrace what happens and try to be flexible. It is a good life lesson too – because we can’t control anything in out lives!
What is your general winemaking philosophy?
Minimal intervention and natural winemaking – native yeasts and no fining or filtering.
What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?
What’s your favorite wine region in the world – other than your own?
I love French wines, and always look to those wines for inspiration, plus I love traveling there. This past Summer I became a French Wine Scholar.
What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting? (other than your own)
Gevery Chambertin – French red burgundy
What’s the oldest bottle in your cellar? The most expensive?
A couple of Bourdeauxs that I picked up from my French Wine class, but not many – I tend to drink them pretty quick for inspiration.
What’s open in your kitchen right now?
French/JuraTrousseau, my Soul Love (blend), Chardonnay from Beaujolais, Bourdeaux, Chenin Blanc and Vermentino from CA. It is my bday weekend! LOL 🙂
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am from the same town where Madonna is from, and I read Tarot cards.
If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?
Dunno, maybe open a bakery or grow mushrooms.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to become winemakers or other aspects of the wine industry?
Get out and network, it is important to have a strong/good community!
Tessier wines can be found at Downtown Wine Merchants, Lionel H Wilson Building, Broadway & 14th Street, Oakland, California