Margaret Koski-Kent

Margaret Koski-Kent

Landscape Designer (Consultant)

Margaret Koski-Kent traveled an unusual path on her way to becoming a winemaker. She first studied horticulture and floriculture at Cornell University and then transferred to the University of California Davis where she completed a BS degree in plant science. She next assumed a position in 2000 as Head Gardener at McEvoy Ranch after consulting there for two years. She managed the crew, and oversaw all aspects of care and maintenance of two acres of French biointensive organic and biodynamic gardens and landscape.

It was during a staff lunch that she suggested to Nan McEvoy, the co-owner of the property, that the extant olive groves be interplanted with grape vines, just as is done in Italy, for example. “We always drink wine at [the staff] lunch,” she remembers telling Nan, so “Why not plant a little pinot noir to make table wine for ourselves?” Ms. McEvoy gave her approval, and soon Maurizio Castelli, an Italian agronomist and oenologist, was engaged to oversee the planting of vines with the goal of ultimately producing a wine that would complement the high-end olive oil produced on the ranch.

To prepare for her winemaking responsibilities, Margaret studied oenology at Napa Valley College and apprenticed with Castelli and two other winemakers in Italy, becoming the winemaker at McEvoy Ranch in 2004. These duties required that she relinquish most of her duties as head gardener. Although you might think that growing produce — she was responsible for growing all the produce for the ranch’s specialty foods —would be similar to growing grapes and making wine, but she disagrees, saying “With winemaking, the trick is learning not to interfere. With produce, you can nudge them along like, ‘OK, you’re a fava bean, and they say you’re supposed to grow in the summer, but we have several microclimates here, and maybe we can work with you in the shade.’”

Margaret oversaw all aspects of quality winemaking for the ranch until mid-2015, crafting their pinot noir, proprietary red wine blend, and rose. She then moved on to pursue other opportunities in the wine industry as a landscape designer and consultant. Since then, she has been consulting on gardens, landscapes and vineyards, and is currently making Napa Valley Pinot Blanc under the 702 label.