Chris Kajani

Winemaker and General Manager, Bouchaine Vineyards


If she weren’t a vintner, Chris would like to be a travel writer or a surf bum.

How many years have you been in the Napa Valley wine industry?

12 years.

How did you get started in the wine business?

A love of wine led me to a harvest with the ultimate Pinot Noir geek (Ed Kurtzman), then back to UC Davis for the second time.

Which wine was your "a-ha!" wine – the one that made you love wine or inspired you to get into the industry?

A 1974 Stags Leap Wine Cellars SLV Cabernet Sauvignon.

Name a Napa Valley vintner who has influenced you and briefly explain why.

I had the pleasure of working with Erin Green at Pahlmeyer. In addition to having a phenomenal palate, she taught me that “work hard, play hard” is a terrific philosophy.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?

I get to see the entire life cycle of a wine - from bud break through the growing season, into the cellar for fermentation, as it matures in barrel, then into the bottle and throughout aging. And it is immensely rewarding to work with an incredible team who makes it all happen!

What are the greatest challenges?

Mother Nature, and equipment failure.

Our motto at the NVV is "cultivating excellence." What does this phrase mean to you and how do you cultivate excellence at your winery?

To make a memorable bottle of wine, many areas of excellence are required, from your growers and fruit, to your cellar team and equipment. Each person who touches this process must bring a ‘no compromises’ mantra to their piece of the puzzle – this is what cultivates excellence in the bottle.

What are you doing at your winery to help preserve and enhance Napa Valley for the future?

We live and breathe grapes and wine, but also live on this dirt, breathe this air, and drink this water. We are committed to sustainable and fish-friendly farming, water conservation, our beneficial insects/birds/critters in the vineyard, and a focus on green vineyard and winery standards.

If you weren't a Napa Valley vintner, what would you be doing?

I’d be a travel writer, or perhaps a surf bum.

If you could open a bottle of your wine and share it with any three people (living or not), who would they be?

Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, and my granny.

What advice would you offer someone trying to get into the Napa Valley wine industry?

Throw yourself all in – don’t dip your toe in the water, do a double somersault off the diving board. People who are committed and giving every ounce of themselves will always make it here.

What's one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m addicted to popcorn and champagne.