What: Kutch Wines
Who: Jamie Kutch and Kristen Green-Kutch
Where: Sonoma Coast
Jamie Kutch was a Nasdaq trader on Wall Street but quit his job to pursue his passion for winemaking. In 2005 he and his future wife moved to the Bay Area, and that same year Kutch made his first vintage; by fall 2018 he’d produced the 14th. Working with stem inclusion, Kutch makes a Burgundy-style wine that’s relatively low in alcohol content, but it’s the pinot noirs and chardonnays the company is known for. The wines are served in top restaurants and wine bars worldwide, with direct sales from the winery available twice a year. kutchwines.com
What: Smith Story Wine Cellars
Who: Eric Story and Ali Smith-Story
Where: Windsor and Philo
Husband and wife Eric and Ali met while working at K&L Wine Merchants in San Francisco and founded their winery in 2013 with a vision of making wine that “wine people” drink. The duo launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 called “Farmers First” and became the first American winery to be crowdfunded. Smith Story makes a wide range of wines from Sonoma and Mendocino counties, as well as wines from Germany’s Rheingau. Presently it produces over 4,000 cases a year and has been recognized as one of California’s top emerging wineries.
What: Young & Yonder Spirits
Who: Josh and Sarah Opatz
Before meeting, getting married, and going into business together, Josh and Sarah Opatz were grad-level students exploring professional careers. Josh had an economics background and was working on an MBA in entrepreneurship at Babson College; Sarah, a journalism major, spent time at a public relations firm and later earned her MFA in graphic design at Academy of Art University. They started Young & Yonder Spirits in 2013 and grew the business on nights and weekends; by 2015, they had developed three products and made it a full-time endeavor. The distillery and tasting room now has five spirits, including vodka, gin and absinthe.