Winemaking

Kevin Holt, Winemaker

Kevin was born in California, and has been making wine professionally for over twenty years. Wine was not always in his blood, however; his mother’s parents were once members of the Christian Temperance Union. His father was an aerospace engineer whose career took the family to Houston when Kevin was a child, and he did not return to California for a very long time.


A good friend in college talked him into taking a course in wine appreciation, though, and this changed the path of his life. He gave up plans to become a lawyer and embarked on a career in wine sales, studying and tasting his way to a level of expertise that allowed him to meet great winemakers from all over the world. Eventually he made the commitment to switch from sales to production, moved back to California, and enrolled in the UC Davis graduate enology program.


Following some volunteer work at Kathryn Kennedy and Etude wineries, he worked his first full harvest at Cinnabar in Saratoga. This led to an Assistant Winemaker position at the then-new Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos. From there, he went on to be Assistant Winemaker at Quivira Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, and later filled the same slot at Artesa Winery in Carneros, gaining valuable experience working with Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon on the way.


Steve MacRostie, looking for someone to fill his own shoes at his namesake MacRostie Winery in Sonoma, then hired Kevin as Winemaker, a position he filled with distinction for nearly a decade. He focused his energy on bringing the winery’s reputation for Pinot Noir up to the level that their Chardonnay had long enjoyed, and succeeded. Through MacRostie, he met the family that owns Beltane Ranch in Sonoma Valley, and has been their Winemaker since 2009.  He will continue to craft their wines as well as manage winemaking and operations at Bartholomew Estate Winery.


At Bartholomew Estate, his goal is to fully realize the foundation’s vision for this historic Sonoma Valley property, bringing all his skills to bear in creating the finest wines ever produced there.  As he says, “most of the flavor in any great wine comes in from the vineyard, inside the grapes; the winemaker’s job is to discover, celebrate and enhance the essence of what nature provides, not to impose his or her will upon it. The Bartholomew Estate vineyards, with their legendary past, are so good that the fruit grown here shouldn't require much tinkering to make some incredible wines."


Kevin lives in Santa Rosa with his wife, Joy, who is also an essential member of the Beltane Ranch team (and a valuable resource for Bartholomew Estate Winery as well), and their small gray cat, Mouse. When not making wine, he enjoys reading, cooking, bicycling, hiking, kayaking, and old house restoration. The one he and Joy have nearly finished working on is, he swears, his last!