Wine Women Wednesday: Darcie Kent of Darcie Kent Vineyards
Happy Wednesday! Or, as I like to call it, Wine Women Wednesday. In this bi-weekly series, I’m thrilled to introduce you to some of the awesome women killing it in the wine industry. Today, meet Darcie Kent of Darcie Kent Vineyards in California’s Tri-Valley.
When I visited the quaint town of Livermore last summer, I met so many incredible winemakers-some even have a band together. One stop that really stayed with me was our tasting at Darcie Kent Vineyards. Darcie comes from multi-generational winemakers and on top of that, is a gifted artist. Learn more about Darcie and her background today on Along Comes Mary
Darcie of Darcie Kent Vineyards
Mary: What I loved most about your winery was the rich history. Can you tell us a bit about your great, great Grandfather and his passion for wine?
Darcie: My family immigrated from Switzerland to the Missouri River valley in 1875 and began planting grapes. In 1883 they opened the Alpine Winery that featured a cellar that was painted with murals by my great-great Grandfather. He also drew the label for their winery. My Great Grandparents, Christian and Rosa worked together to grow, produce and sell wine as well as raise a large family. As it is today with my family, everyone helps with a family business. Growing up, my aunts and uncles would tell me stories of sweeping the peanuts off the cellar floor and washing wine bottles for a penny apiece.
The Cellar operated as speakeasy during Prohibition, for which my Great Grandfather Christian was arrested, but it didn’t stop him from running for Sheriff a year later (he lost)! They built a new winery and dance hall after prohibition and our family ran it until 1962. The cellar with its beautiful murals was closed up in 1945 after two accidents: my great Aunt and my Great Grandfather both fell to their deaths going down to the cellar. It remained closed for years and my mother was always so sad that we never got to see the murals. In 2014, A Fox News reporter from Kansas City emailed me looking for information on my family winery. I gave him photos and documents and He contacted the current owner who I called after the episode ran on the news. I was so excited to learn that not only that the winery was still standing but he had also opened up the cellar! I made a trip out and was finally able to see the murals. From the start of our marriage, my husband and I wanted to open our family winery up again, but in Oregon or California. We purchased our first vineyard in the Livermore Valley in 1996.
Art and Life at the Vineyards
Mary: Your art at the winery is stunning. Which came first, wine making or art?
Darcie: Wine and Art have been apart of my life since I can remember and everyone in my family were artists as well as worked in the wine industry. I always believed that I would be able to do both!
Mary: What Is a typical work day like for you?
Darcie: My day always begins with taking my two German Shepherds out into the vineyards and ends the same way. 80% of the wine is made in the vineyard and the best fertilizer is the feet of the owner. I am constantly on the lookout for pests and disease. You’ll find me shoot thinning in the spring, doing canopy management during the summer and dropping unripe clusters in the fall.
The rest of my day is spent in my studio. I love being able to have a gallery at the winery. I’ve sold over 170 paintings since we’ve opened in 2013 and I cherish being able to paint the vineyards and animals that surround us. I love this valley, its history of agriculture and ranching. I paint all our wine labels and in the past year we have developed “Give Back Wines” where the proceeds are given back to area groups: Dog Day Cabernet for our locally funded Valley Humane Society, Chute Out Chardonnay and Rodeo Red to support our Livermore Rodeo Stockmen’s Association, Victories Rosé to support the breast cancer programs of Axis Community Health and we have two wines to support the history and heritage of Lake Tahoe’s Thunderbird Lodge.
The Wine Industry and Darcie’s Perfect Day
Mary: What advice would you give to women wanting to enter the wine industry?
Darcie: I’d tell her there is no better way to learn than by doing and getting an entry level job is not difficult. Be open to working in every area of the winery. If you want to make wine you also need to know how to sell it. And if you are interested in selling wine, nothing helps more than knowing how its made. Don’t worry too much about what your first entry job is, just get in and start learning.
Mary: Describe your perfect day. Where you’d be, what you’d be drinking?
Darcie: I love the life I have and each day is filled with small joys of watching the sunrise, saying hello to the birds that share our vineyards, sharing my life with David, my husband of 34 years and working with wonderful people. If I could do anything with anyone past or present I would share a bottle of my wine with my daughters Kailyn and Amanda, my mother Carol who passed away when she was only 50, her mother Adelia and Adelia’s mother Rosa in the cellar of our family home in Missouri surrounded by our ancestor’s murals, where friends drank wine before, during and after Prohibition. I’d love to trade stories of all these remarkable women who are apart of my life and memories.
Visit Darcie Kent Vineyards and Livermore Valley
From her exquisite reds to tropical and floral Chardonnays, Darcie Kent Vineyards is a beautiful vineyard you should not miss on a visit to the Tri-Valley. If you’re a fan of the color purple, you’ll really love Darcie’s winery. They’re open 7 days a week from 12pm to 5pm, and also host fun concert evenings in the summer. Learn more about the vineyards HERE and plan your trip to Livermore HERE.
(*Disclosure: I was a guest of the media at Darcie Kent Vineyards. Special thanks to Darcie for being a “Wine Woman” on this Wednesday. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or someone you know would like to be a candidate for this blog series.)