Monday, April 22, 2013

4/22-Michael Horn and Nicole Nielsen talk with Kris Curran, Bruno D'Alfonso & Chris Slaughter

Kris Curran - D'Alfonso-Curran Wines
Kris grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley. Her early love of animals cultivated her passion for science which, in turn, led her to earn an animal science degree at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  She became enticed by the scientific side of winemaking while working with Bruno at Sanford Winery and received her second bachelors from Fresno in winemaking.  Kris began as assistant winemaker at Cambria and later became a founding winemaker at Koehler and then at Sea Smoke Cellars, where she produced seven vintages. After leaving Sea Smoke, she worked as winemaker for Foley Wines from 2008 to 2010.  Although Kris is popularly known for crafting Pinot Noir, her passion is Spanish varietals. She was the first California vintner to popularize Grenache Blanc, which Curran started making in 2003. Kris loves the variety and challenge of mastering different production techniques. “I have come to appreciate the unique personality of each varietal with which I work. I combine this understanding with my scientific knowledge in pursuit of crafting the best wine possible.” 

Bruno D'Alfonso - D'Alfonso-Curran Wines

Bruno spent his formative years hunting and fishing in the wild, open spaces of southern California. His love of the outdoors led him to earn a degree in soil science from Cal Poly. Bruno's fascination with fine wines inspired him to seek a second bachelors degree from UC Davis, this time in winemaking. Shortly after, Bruno had the wonderful fortune of working with two California winemaking icons: Richard Graff of Chalone Vineyard and Richard Sanford, the Pinot Noir pioneer of the Santa Rita Hills AVA.  After three vintages with the late Mr. Graff at the Edna Valley Vineyard, Bruno joined Mr. Sanford to help begin Sanford Winery. He remained Sanford's winemaker for twenty-three vintages and during that time became a partner. Bruno is one of the best Pinot Noir winemakers in the business and is currently producing exceptional Pinot Noir under his BADGE and Di Bruno labels. "Over the years I have begun to understand the 'designing' of wine. That has become my goal: to create wonderful, stable, long-lived, stylized wines."

Chris Slaughter - Executive Director Santa Maria Valley Wine Country Assoc.

Chris Slaughter is the Executive Director of the Santa Maria Valley Wine Country Association representing 60 winery, restaurant and associated business including Byron, Cambria, Foxen and Riverbench Vineyard and Winery, to name a few of the renowned cool climate brands.  The weekend of July 20th, the association will host the 4th annual Chardonnay Symposium, named as one of the top ten wine events in California by LA Weekly.

Join over 50 Chardonnay producers from around the world for an insightful weekend of education and exploration designed to enlighten wine consumers, industry professionals, and media on Chardonnay wine producing regions and wine making styles, and their effects on America’s favorite wine.  The Chardonnay Symposium is the only event of its kind in the United States focusing on the golden grape and is host to the world’s most celebrated Chardonnays served alongside Chardonnay-inspired food pairings specifically designed to enhance the wine experience.

A highlight of the weekend is the educational panel session moderated by Wine Enthusiast’s Senior West Coast Editor, Steve Heimoff with ward-winning winemakers and vineyard experts.  This year's panel , "Bring in the clones," includes Merry Edwards, Jeff Stewart of Hartford Court, Clarissa Nagy of Riverbench Vineyard and Winery, James Ontiveros from Native 9 and Alta Maria and Karl D. Wente.  And kicking off The Chardonnay Symposium weekend is a star-studded tribute to Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat at the beautiful Bien Nacido Vineyards.  Sommelier Rajat Parr, longtime friend and partner Bob Lindquist of Qupe, The Hitching Post's Chef Frank Ostini, the much buzzed about winemaker Gavin Chanin, and others will be on hand to regale the crowd with stories of Clendenen's influence on the wine industry.

To learn more about The Chardonnay Symposium or purchase tickets, please visit or email

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