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Meet Kevin Boyer, our Napa/Sonoma Wine Director

Kevin Boyer has 16 years of wine experience, most recently as VP of beverage for Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Inc. He also co-founded the critically acclaimed boutique Napa Valley winery, BOYANCI. Kevin is a nationally recognized sommelier affiliated with the Court of Master Sommeliers, Society of Wine Educators and many other global wine organizations.

 

Q: How would you describe your wine personality?

KB: I’m more of a New World style drinker but I don’t like fruit bombs. I look for balance, acidity and structure, not extremely huge, over-the-top, over-oaked, jammy, fruit-driven monsters.

Q: What are your favorite foods?

KB: Having spent 90 percent of my career at a steakhouse, I love big, beautiful, rich, well-marbled cuts of steak. I also enjoy rustic Italian dishes with good acidity and finesse. But honestly, I eat everything from foie gras to macaroni and cheese – everything, that is, except frog legs.

Q: What are your favorite wines to drink?

KB: Champagne is absolutely my favorite. I also love really old German Riesling, constrained, well-balanced Napa Cabs, and elegant Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that has high acidity and structure.

Q: What’s the most epic wine you’ve ever tasted?

KB: A 1797 Bual Madeira, which was a fortified wine at Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, FL. This wine will never die – it was still bursting with acidity after tasting it for about an hour.

Q: What’s your favorite wine region/vineyard to travel to?

KB: Ideally, I’d go to Italy every year, or South Africa. Locally, I love Spring Mountain, the Highlands, including Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain, and the mountain vineyards of Napa Valley.

Q: What’s the most difficult part of founding a winery?

KB: The toughest thing is patience. We started in 2006 but couldn’t release our first wine until 2009. You don’t get to sell anything for three years. It’s also hard to introduce a small production or boutique winery to large audiences, without spending lots of money on advertising. There are a lot of players in the space so you have to differentiate yourself and build consumer awareness. This is why Lot18 is great – it helps to get names out there.

Q: What do you enjoy about owning a winery?

KB: I enjoy walking into a restaurant and seeing someone drinking a bottle of my wine. I get so excited; I want to buy it for them! Also, I enjoy getting to work with a wide range of people, from artists to poets to scientists and CEO’s. The wine industry is made up of a diverse group of people. It also doesn’t hurt that I get to spend days in beautiful Napa Valley, drinking wine.

Q: Why did you get into wine?

KB: My mother founded and owned a beverage marketing company that conducted product demonstrations. She was a part of a team that would go out and do demos back in the 80’s when the wine market was starting to grow. So I always had wine people or winemakers in the house for dinner – and everyone always looked like they were having fun. I knew at an early age that I wanted to be in wine - by age 16, I was making wine recommendations. It’s a wildly social business and a great product. Plus, there’s always something more to learn about wine. I never get bored.

Q: Why did you join Lot18?

KB: From the winery side, I was looking into the world of web-based wine marketing companies and I connected with Philip through a friend. I liked the hybrid model of a flash sale site and a wine retailer because it actually works for the wineries. Most of the other sites out there just provide an outlet to get rid of excess wine, but Lot18 is the opposite – they’re trying to improve business for wineries and the consumer. I wasn’t looking for a full time job, but here I am!

Q: If you had one piece of advice for buying wine, what would it be?

KB: Use the assets around you. Wine preference is subjective so don’t be afraid to ask a wine director, sommelier, retailer or the folks at Lot18, for recommendations. Let them know how much you’re willing to pay and what you’re looking for – don’t be embarrassed to let your wine preferences be known.

Q: What do you like about California?

KB: What is not to like about California? Seriously. I spent the last 20 years trying to get back to California full time. In two hours, I could be skiing, in San Francisco, an incredible culinary center, or in wine country. Plus, it has all of the diversity of the wine regions in Europe located within a 60-80 square-mile radius.