When I was invited to the launch of “A Perfect Score: The Art, Soul and Business of a 21st Century Winery,” I knew I was in for a great story. The book, written by Kathryn and Craig Hall, launched on September 13 and chronicles a very honest story of people, wine, art and politics.
It is about two people with very different backgrounds – Kathryn’s family had a wine making background and Craig originally thought Rosé was red and white wine mixed together. As Craig said, “With wine, I continue to be a work in progress.”
Together, Kathryn and Craig formed what is today Hall and Walt Wineries.
The book talked about their journey. From meeting when Kathryn was running for Mayor in 1991 to moving to Austria for her Ambassador position to buying their first vineyard (a dilapidated winery that had seen better days, which happened right before the Ambassador appointment) to navigating Napa politics and ramping up wine production right in time for the market crash.
It wasn’t an easy journey. But it was about two people who gathered together and formed a marriage, a family, a business, a winery, and a storied political career. I had a chance to talk to both Craig and Kathryn at the Dallas reception and Craig told me they started the book about a year ago and he didn’t remember why they originally decided to do it. Kathryn remembered differently. “We had a chance to tell our story to a different audience. I believe that people want to tell the story of wine and the important people that made this winery successful.”
She talked about reliving the experiences – the good, not so good and having the perspective of time. Kathryn was honest about the tension of working with one’s spouse and how that tension created a better winery and book.
From the story of how the Hall landmark rabbit sculpture, Bunny Foo Foo, a work of art by Lawrence Argent, came to stand tall as a symbol of Hall Winery. How fun that it was meant to capture the heritage and memory of Kathryn leading her kids through her parent’s Mendocino County Vineyard singing “Little Bunny Foo Foo.” The book is a juxtaposition of these types of memories and how they built the foundation of the winery’s hospitality experience. It comes down to having fun – drinking great wine, enjoy the hospitality of a winery, hanging out with people you love, giving back to the community and eating great food. And the title comes from the first designation of 100 points for the 2010 Hall Exzellenz Cabernet.
The Hall’s imagination and vision truly made what is today known as a well-regarded, highly-ranked, boutique winery come to life. It’s about attention to detail – from sustainability of the vineyard to taking care of the people who have made the winery successful to a focus on the customer. If you can’t visit Hall and Walt Wineries, reading this book makes you almost smell the grapes in the barrel room, feel the crunch of walking through the wet ground of the vineyards and taste the juice right out of the wine thief.