Kris Curran called late today with more news than typically comes this time of day on a Friday, just as I prepared to shut down my computer and head out of town for a couple of weeks.
Curran said she is leaving Sea Smoke, the Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir estate where she’s worked the past seven years and helped shape into one of the area’s defining wineries, to join a new venture headed by William Foley, owner of Foley winery, also in Santa Rita Hills.
She also said that she and her longtime companion, Bruno D'Alfonso, had married in December, after being together for 17 years. He makes wine under di Bruno and Badge labels, after leaving Sanford, where he worked for two decades.
"So 2008 is pretty weird so far," Curran laughed.
The Foley project is the transformation of the former Ashley’s Vineyard, in Santa Rita Hills, into Las Hermanas. Foley purchased the property last year and renamed it after his daughters, Lindsay and Courtney, with plans to produce a wine, perhaps from 2007. He had talked about calling one brand Two Sisters. LinCourt, another of his labels, is named after his daughters.
In December, Foley announced that he had also purchased Merus, the Napa Valley Cabernet producer, and last year he also acquired Firestone.
She said most of the plans are still in the development phases and she would know more as she became acquainted with the project.
“Everyone at Sea Smoke has been great and I’m looking forward to a new opportunity,” she said. She will still make wine under her Curran label, which she started several years ago, focusing on Syrah.
Sea Smoke, a spectacular vineyard in the heart of Santa Rita Hills where Pinot Noir thrives, is owned by Bob David. He produces three separate Sea Smoke bottlings: Botella, Southing and Ten. All of the Sea Smoke Pinots I’ve reviewed to date since the debut 2001 vintage have earned outstanding marks.