In the last year, Kristen has fully taken the reins of SFWC, expanded the business and made it flourish as never before as it comes upon its 20th anniversary. While handling all operations for the company, Kristen has created another brand she named 3 Spells, is about to add another line of international wines she’ll call Prix Fixe, and expanded the company’s Crush94. custom crush business.
“I’ve adapted to the market, working to find new avenues,” she says. “My goal has always been to un-complicate the word of complicated wine. I’m a no-nonsense, uncomplicated person and I’ve proved that by showcasing our wines in Napa Valley.”
In 2004, Barb and Timothy were able to hire Kristen. Born in Seattle Kristen grew up in St. Helena. She spent 10 years working in the wine and hospitality industry before she was ready to tackle her own family business. While attending college in Napa studying psychology, she had an opportunity to work at The French Laundry and realized that she needed to start thinking more seriously about the industry that had been part of her life since birth.
Kristen continued learning through sales and relationship- marketing at the Sterling Vineyards in St. Helena, and at Viansa, Culinary Institute of America and Mumm Napa. Her main focus now is to build up Spelletich Cellars to fit the 21st-century market. “My personal goal is to take the company to the next level. We’ve been ‘mom ‘n’ pop’ for almost 20 years, and now we’ve made this into a business with real integrity. I’ve spent this year ensuring it for my son and my grandchildren that they’ll have a successful wine business in the future.”
That’s why she created SPELLwine as the winery’s second brand. “I came here with a 21st century attitude,” she explains. “This is urban (referring to the winery in the Southern Crossing region of Napa Valley). This is real. No glamour, just real. “I don’t wear Gucci and I don’t wear expensive clothing that often. I’m not elegant and I don’t know how to walk in high-heels. But if someone enjoys my wine, it makes it worth it.”
Of SPELLwine, Kristen says, “I’m SPELLwine. It’s geared around Millennials. My generation are visual buyers (referring to the edgy labels she created). The label, the price point is what’s important to us. We don’t read reviews. “Twenty years ago we (the California wine industry) wanted to be like France. Now, branding and graphics are that much more important. It doesn’t have to make sense to you, but it does to me and to my generation.”
Kristen is a single mom, raising her son Gage, who she hopes one day will become the third generation at Spelletich. As proof, of Gage’s possible ascension to the wine business, grandma Barb coos, remembering an outing where, “I saw him walking in the vineyard and checking out the vines and he’s a natural.” ”