Christina grew up in San Diego, CA where wine was not really a part of everyday life. After high school, a brief trip to France afforded her a glimpse into the world of food & wine when she tried oysters and Muscadet for the first time in the seaside hamlet of Nantes in the Loire Valley. She was enamored. But back in the US, it would be 4 more years until she would continue her wine education. She attended Whittier College in Los Angeles, where she studied business marketing, and after graduation, she started with The Walt Disney Company in the Public Affairs division, which was followed by a sales position for Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
During this time, she attended a lot of corporate dinners and networking events where the conversation predictably turned to the political landscape, stocks, golf and sports. Searching for a new "hobby" that would challenge her and provide a bit of conversation to keep her in the loop at these events, she decided to learn all she could about wine, believing that there was much more to this beverage than the generic rows of Cabernet and Chardonnay on the supermarket shelves.
She started visiting the local wineries in Santa Barbara and talking with the pioneering winemakers, who ultimately became her mentors. Doug Margerum, Greg Brewer, Steve Clifton, Kris Curran and Bion Rice were all wonderfully generous in sharing their craft with her, and she started to seriously consider a different career path. She began taking online courses to get accredited with the Society of Wine Educators and the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Abaluche Wine Company was founded in 2003 with two college friends, as a wine bar concept in Los Angeles. It was between these three that the word Abaluche came into being, while enjoying the food, wine and company at a dinner party one evening. Just before the wine bar was to open, she acknowledged that she had very little hands-on experience in the wine industry, and wanted to do a few more laps around the wine world before committing to a location...so she sought to get to the root of this new industry that she was falling in love with.
Drawn down the rabbit hole of wine in 2005, Christina never looked back as a whole new world based in farming, family, terroir and travel opened up to her. Combining elements of art and science, it was the perfect industry to indulge her romantic side, challenge her business side, and allow her inner science nerd to geek out. She purchased fruit from the Bien Nacido vineyard that year and produced her first wine, Lysander Pinot Noir, at Crushed in San Francisco.
It was also in 2005 that she was fortunate to experience her first harvest at Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa Valley. Somewhere between crushing the fruit for their cult-like Vin Gris and her first Pinot Noir punch down, she knew she had discovered the secret to happiness: truth in wine. By creating something from the earth with her own hands, she knew that this was to be the foundation of all she was destined to do within the wine industry.
Great periods of blood, sweat and tears followed for a decade after that decision was made, but together with hands-on education, exploration and travel allowed her the greatest Graduate experience she could hope to gain. During this time, Abaluche stayed with her: at first a wine event & education company; then a production company, where she produced three vintages under the Abaluche Wine Company label; as well as offering wine list & private cellar consultations.
Over time, more and more of her friends asked her where to go in wine country and what regions to explore. Stemming from an underlying passion for travel herself, she set out to establish a bespoke wine country concierge service that pairs people with experiences, and connects back to the great people who have enriched her life, from Santa Barbara to Sonoma County to Friuli, Italy to Cote Rotie, France. Thus, Abaluche Oenotourism was born
Presently, Christina holds the certificate for the Advanced WSET; is a WSET Diploma Candidate, and is a Certified Sommelier. She lives in San Francisco, CA, which is close to both the vineyards and the international airport, which is the perfect location for a quick getaway.
Photographer: Jina Anne
Location: Realm Cellars, Napa CA
Date: June 2014