Most people are lucky to find one great passion in life. At 44, Cristie Kerr has already discovered two. The first, golf, led her to the second, wine. The Florida native was on the green by age seven and played her first junior competition at 12. When she turned pro at 18, she was immediately one to watch.
But even her laser focus couldn’t ignore the beauty and allure of California wine country. When the Samsung world championship of women’s golf took her to Napa Valley, she had just come of drinking age. Most young adults’ first introduction to wine is Boone’s Farm, yet Kerr found herself spending her down days at some of the Valley’s top tasting rooms.
She stayed in Yountville near the French Laundry and would drive an hour each way to get to the tournament in Vallejo. “I remember it was harvest and the valley was so alive, and the smell was just electric,” she recalls. Kerr used any downtime between play to go wine tasting with friends. “From then on, whenever I played a tournament near a wine region I had to seek out and learn more about the production side,” she says. “I was fascinated by how different soils grew different grapes and how different wines paired with food. It was instantly a second love for me.”
Kerr went on to become one of the most successful players in LPGA Tour history, nabbing many accolades and becoming the first American to hold the number-one rank since the Women’s World Golf Rankings were introduced in 2006. And she’s still not finished making her mark.
The most successful athletes find balance, and Kerr carved out time to start a family and a lauded wine business. In 2006, she partnered with Pride Mountain Vineyards to create Curvature, a wine label whose proceeds go to support breast cancer research.
A lot of golfers double as winemaking hobbyists (Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus), but Kerr doesn’t just dabble in something. She went all-in, earned her level-one sommelier certification, and in 2013 started a second label, Kerr Cellars, with star winemaker Helen Keplinger. Kerr Cellars represents the best of Burgundy and Bordeaux wines, employing Napa and Sonoma grape varietals. Just three years after launching Kerr Cellars, Wine Spectator flagged them as a winery to watch. Both brands are hyper-focused on quality and thus have boutique-level production quantities.
Kerr notes there are a lot of parallels between the wine and golf worlds. Those at the top of their game require attention to detail, gut instinct, pure drive, and determination. During Covid, Kerr took on a lot of the daily, hands-on operations at the winery. “It was really challenging,” she says. “But my personality likes really challenging. I’m not going to let something hard beat me, which is probably why I do well in both worlds. When you succeed at something challenging, the reward is even more satisfying.”
As ambitious as Kerr is, she also realizes she can’t do it all with excellence and without compromise. After trying to be a pro golfer and run the winery last year, she’s relinquished some of her wine duties back to her talented team. She is committed to making 2022 her comeback year in golf, while wine remains her long game. --kerrcellars.com
These wines are single-vineyard expressions of Kerr Cellars’ finest and most exclusive Napa Valley and Sonoma County vineyards. Members can use the code: EXCLUSIVERESORTS and receive a 10-percent discount on orders. shop.kerrcellars.com
2018 BECKSTOFFER VINEYARD GEORGES III CABERNET SAUVIGNON Grapes are sourced from Beckstoffer’s legendary Georges III vineyard in the Rutherford AVA, and the wine is matured in French oak barrels, giving it a luxurious complexity while also honoring the vineyard’s French founder.
2018 MANZANITA VINEYARD PINOT NOIR This wine was made and matured in the finest French oak barrels from the Vosges forest, mixing old and new barrels to get the perfect balance of fresh vibrant fruit and silky layered complexity.
2019 RUED VINEYARD CHARDONNAY Rued Vineyard lies just five miles from the ocean in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. The “sea spray” minerality adds an intriguing tension to the tactile palate.
Kerr Cellars produces small quantities of high-caliber wines with extremely limited access. The company has recently opened their cellar to Exclusive Resorts Members. If interested in procuring wines, please email email@example.com for a curated selection from the Members-only collection.