Growing up in Pacifica, CA I always enjoyed working with my hands whether it was hanging wallpaper with my dad or building furniture in our workshop. Many of my fondest memories take place at my grandparent’s dinner table in San Francisco where my grandmother would treat us to Italian food (and possibly a wee bit of wine) that will never be replicated. After high school, my family moved to Auburn, CA where I met and married Felicia. We moved to San Luis Obispo where I studied Agribusines at CalPoly. Upon graduation we moved to Sacramento where I worked in investment real estate and then employee benefits consulting. Today when I’m not making wine or sharing it with friends, you will probably find me building furniture with my daughter Marseille or fly fishing on a small stream deep in the Sierra Mountains.
As a child, I spent many hours in the kitchen cooking alongside my mother. Picking wild blackberries, gathering walnuts, and raising pigs, chickens, and goats instilled in me a love of nature and fresh, local food. While attending Sierra College in 1991, I met Rob and we were married a year later. When we built our current home in El Dorado Hills, we planted a vineyard, a garden, and many varieties of fruit trees. Our abundance of fresh produce provided many opportunities to can pickles, peaches, lemon curd, and jams. Several years ago, I purchased a wheat mill and began to pursue the art of making whole grain breads. Currently, I spend most of my time teaching my children and entertaining guests at our home.
Abby, Ethan, and Marseille have been involved in our family winemaking from the beginning. Abby, the oldest, is the inspiration behind our wine label. At seven years old, she loved scooping the must into the basket press. By the end of pressing, her arms would be stained and she would be splattered purple from head to toe. Harvesting, sorting, crushing, and pressing the wine are all family affairs. When it comes time for bottling, each of the kids has a job on our small production line. Marseille also enjoys her special role as “Dad’s wine lab assistant”.
Kurt Niznik, Winemaker
Born to Mexican-American and Slovakian-Slovenian parents, raised in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and educated at Yale College, Kurt moved to California to pursue his winemaking dreams in 1997. He worked his first harvest at Acacia Winery in the Carneros region of Napa. After spending several years in the cellars of wineries in both Napa and Sonoma counties, Kurt enrolled in the Master’s degree program in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. For two years, he divided his time between studying and racking barrels before returning to Napa to continue on the job training. After making wine in California and then Washington for several years, Kurt returned to Napa Valley to help start up the newly constructed Caldwell Winery in 2005.
In 2008, already working as a freelance winemaker, Kurt teamed up with Tim Mondavi and family to assist them in the growth of Continuum Estate from its fledgling beginnings to an estate-based brand with a state-of-the-art winery constructed atop the famous Pritchard Hill. Kurt now works as a winemaking consultant for a select few clients in the Napa and Sonoma areas.
In his free time, he flies paragliders for fun and spiritual healing, watches birds and other wildlife (a lifelong passion), and cooks spicy Mexican and Indian food.