Pairing wine with experiences

Kat Doescher moved from the laboratory to making wine in Sonoma County, Calif. Wine has to “form that memory connection with the consumer that will keep them coming back for it when the mood strikes.”

SONOMA, Calif. — Winemaker Kat Doescher takes a different approach when it comes to wine pairings: She pairs the wine with the experience.

“Wines aren’t just for pairing with food,” she said. “With the rise of social media they’re also for pairing with experiences.

“I often think about how our Chardonnay might be good at the beach when it’s warm and how the Zinfandels are great for hanging out in front of a fire on a winter night,” she said. “All of the wines have to be balanced and excellent expressions of their varietals, but they also have to form that memory connection with the consumer that will keep them coming back for it when the mood strikes.”

Doescher grew up in the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles.

“It’s a land of tumble weeds and shopping malls,” she said. “When I graduated high school at 17 I went north to Humboldt State for school and have been in Northern California ever since.”

She acknowledges that science has always been the way her mind works although she didn’t focus on it until high school, when she got interested in chemistry.

“Living in Sonoma County, the land of wine, was really what brought me into winemaking,” she said. “I had spent many years in a traditional environmental lab job that stressed me out and kept me locked inside. When it was finally time to make a quality-of-life change, I took a job in a wine lab and grew from there.”

Doescher has worked at Valley of the Moon Winery for 11 harvests. After it was purchased by the Stewart family in 2012, the property was returned to its original name, Madrone Estate Winery. She makes wine for Madrone, Valley of the Moon and Lake Sonoma Winery, which are sub-appellation wines for restaurants.

David Wells, director of public relations for Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, acknowledged her passion for wine.

“With her 10-plus years of winemaking in the Valley, Kat truly understands the terroir of the vineyards she cultivates grapes from,” he said. “The wines that Madrone Estate Winery and Lake Sonoma Winery have been releasing speak for themselves and the appellations that they come from.”

In spite of the success of California wines there is a ripe challenge hanging on the vine.

“The biggest challenge that I have seen for California winemakers is distinguishing yourself in a big field,” she said. “There are so many great wineries producing fabulous wines out there that finding a way to make your wines standout is something you have to constantly be working for.”

For her wines, the experience helps make the difference.

Kat Doescher

Residence: Petaluma, Calif.

Age: 39

Education: Humboldt State University, Arcata, Calif.

Occupation: Winemaker

Quote: “Wine’s ability to create moments originates with where the grapes are grown. The breathtaking views in the vineyard are inspirational in crafting the final product.”

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