How we got here

January Mustard on Hwy 29

Holy crap. We live in Napa!

Yes, there’s nothing like a little “major life change” to get the adrenaline flowing. And boy is it flowing! While in some ways the move was sudden (we first looked at houses April 21st and made an offer the same day, closing on May 24th), in truth this was a long-term plan (and dream). A number of friends, upon learning of our new residence, have queried whether we have retired, dropped out of the rat race, won the lottery, or lost our minds. In at least three cases the answer is no. So for those who have inquired, here is how we found ourselves living just off Highway 29.

When Laurie and I married in the summer of 2009, she moved in to my house in Berkeley, even though she owned a house and worked in Lodi. The fact that I was renting a house in Berkeley was a holdover from when I worked in Emeryville. Although I no longer held that job, I loved the amazing 180-degree view from the house, and the fact that it was sort of between Lodi and San Jose (where I was currently working) made it somewhat justifiable. We loved the unique urban qualities of Berkeley, plus the fact that it was easy to jump on BART to get to the city for shopping or revelry. To be honest, however, the commute was a drag, we couldn’t do whatever we wanted to the house (like paint the walls), the landlord was a pain, and we were spending quite a bit on rent and getting nothing in return. We knew we wanted to move, and we thought about Pleasanton/Dublin (in order to stay central for our respective commutes), but there was one other factor at work: I have lost my passion for Silicon Valley.

Syrah at Arnot-Roberts

Now from a paycheck standpoint, technology marketing is still my bread and butter. But man cannot live on bread alone. It needs to be washed down with something, and what better than a nice glass of wine? In other words, wine needs to be marketed, too, so why not use my accumulated skills and knowledge and apply them to something I am more passionate about?

During the past 3-4 years I have spent quite a bit of time exploring the Napa Valley and talking to some amazing people who live and work in the region. The more time I spent here the more I fell in love with the terroir—the land, the climate, the people, the way of life. There is a constant sense of renewal every year; the valley starts over after every harvest. It’s a cycle. And every year is different, but the same. I am fascinated by the fact that “grape juice” can be so different based on where the grapes were grown, what kind of yeast was used, how old the oak barrel was, how it was blended…it’s an amazing art. Some bottles of wine cost only $2, and some fetch hundreds of dollars per, but they all start out as juice squeezed out of little grapes. What makes the difference? Location, science, creativity… and marketing. And that’s where I come in. At least that’s my goal.

Eventually, I want to ease my way into doing some wine marketing. I’ll keep doing the tech thing to pay the bills, and I am fortunate to have a boss who has allowed me to move to Napa and do some telecommuting (Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the office, Tuesdays and Fridays from home). I figured it would be easier to meet the people I need to meet in the wine biz by actually living in Napa, rather than trying to do it from somewhere else. I have to “walk the walk”, after all. (Also, it’s no secret that anyone with a keyboard and a corkscrew can be a wine blogger/social media expert, so I figured I would improve my chances by actually committing to leading the life I want to write about.) So here we are.

I am blessed to have a wife who enables dreams to take flight. She believes in my vision, and encouraged me to pursue my passion. In moving to Napa, she did little to ease her daily commute (although the ride home is 15 minutes shorter). However, she is thrilled that we have a home of our own, a yard to dig in, and walls we can paint. And what a home it is….replete with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and high ceilings to give it a sense of spaciousness. The guest rooms are already outfitted with luxurious beds and bedding and will soon have hotel-like amenities (robes, coffeemakers, etc) for our visitors, who will be many. We converted the living room into a dining room with a large square table that seats 12 for some amazing Saturday night dinners with guests after a day of wine tasting. We have a small backyard with seating and a fire-pit for those wonderful wine-country evenings, and a cozy bar area for pre-prandial imbibing. The kids all seem to love it, and we think our friends will, too.

Some of our friends have questioned our move here, and seem disapproving of our decision, as if we are being irresponsible in some way. Maybe they just wish they could do the same. We are pursuing our dream, we are still working, and we are actually saving money in the process (over renting). How can anyone argue with that? 🙂

This entry was posted in Food, Marketing, Napa, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How we got here

  1. Paul Kamian says:

    Kort & Laurie,

    After reading your piece on “How We Got Here”, you epitomized in great depth the magic for which Napa brings to all. It is a slice of heaven and I am so blessed work and be part of the experience. You are an inspiration!!

    For those who may have questioned your motives for migration are in fact envious of you and only dream of someday living here. As one who has entrenched himself in the field of not only food & wine, but the whole world of Hospitality, I share your passion.

    We are of a unique class for which I know we can learn from each other. Though always be aware that once you have convinced yourself that you know all…Get Out! Keep moving forward! I look forward to getting together with you soon!!!


    Paul H. Kamian, CS


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