Kristy Melton

Kristy Melton

Freemark Abbey Winery (Head Winemaker)

Varozza Vineyards (Consulting Winemaker)

Kristy Melton could be described as a true country girl in her youth, growing up in Canutillo, Texas, raising hogs for judging at the Houston Livestock Show, barrel racing, and being named a rodeo queen. Her interest in livestock led her to enter Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, in 1998 with a major in Animal Science. A serious illness after her first year there ultimately prompted her to add a major in Biology when she returned to school, so she earned her BS degree in 2003 with a double major. By then, she was a self-described science geek, and embarked on a career as a research scientist at the prestigious National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. The pay was low, however, so she supplemented it by working at a restaurant. This brought her into contact with food and wine aficionados and piqued her interest in both. A family trip to Napa Valley brought the realization of the science that underlies winemaking and inspired her to trade in her beakers for barrels in 2005.

That same year, Kristy enrolled at the University of California at Davis, where she earned her MS in Viticulture and Enology in 2007. Internships at Iron Horse Vineyards and Seresin Estatelo located in Marlborough, New Zealand, preceded her joining Saintsbury as Enologist in 2008. In addition to her responsibilities in research and analysis there, she contributed her winemaking talents to the winery’s famed Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay programs. Two years later, Kristy was appointed as Clos Du Val’s Assistant Winemaker in 2010, rising to be its Winemaker in 2011, Senior Winemaker in 2013, and Director of Winemaking in 2015. While at Clos Du Val, she was named to Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers” and Drinks Business’s “Top 30 Under 40 Winemakers in the World.

Kristy started Melton Wines LLC, a self-directed consultancy based in Napa in 2010. She left Clos Du Val in 2015, first joining Kendall Jackson wines as Winemaker for several of its brands, and then becoming Head Winemaker at Freemark Abbey in mid-2019. She is also the Consulting Winemaker at Varozza Vineyards.

A travel, food, and wine junkie, Kristy lives in Napa.