On May 3, 2023, we had a chance to meet and interview Kira Ballotta virtually. Kira is the winemaker and owner of Olivia Brion and Cantadora Wines. She is an impressive woman and a great storyteller, She also does a lot to support women’s causes and donates some of the proceeds from her Cantadora wines to those causes. We were looking forward to hearing her stories and learning more about her wines and the wineries. In our Zoom interview, we covered four of her new-release Olivia Brion wines and three of her Cantadoa wines.
Before we get to the wine reviews, I thought I would share a few tidbits we learned before and during the tasting with Kira
- Kira didn’t start in wine – she has a degree in finance from University of Washington.
- When in college she wanted to work on the floor of the stock exchange.
- After a brief stint in wealth management, she went back into valuing businesses and worked with an investment banking team that valued mines.
- If you want to learn more about how she went from finance to wine, listen to The Wine Makers podcast about her. This podcast lured me into asking for the interview.
- She had discovered wine through her finance work; she valued companies and got the opportunity to value some wineries.
- A friend recommended a winemaker she could meet to get more information. He was the winemaker for Olivia Brion.
- After a couple of years of helping with wine operations on the weekends (barrel washing, grape picking, bin stacking), she quit my career in finance in 2012 to focus on wine production full time.
- She worked harvests in Napa (Prisoner, Faust, Flowers, & Quintessa) and Australia (Molly Dooker) for many years before finding a full time role with Alpha Omega.
- Alpha Omega was her last job in “big” wine. She spent 4 years there ending with the role of Enology Research Manager working with Michel Rolland and Jean Hoeflinger. Since we cover AO wines, that story was another attraction to interview her.
- Kira began making wine for Olivia Brion in 2016. She took over all winemaking in 2019.
- She launched Cantadora to share the stories of women doing extraordinary things in support of their communities.
- Catadora wines are made at Obsidian Wine Co. using their wine making facility.
- 10% of sales of Cantadora wines goes to supports La Casa de Las Madres, A Place of Her Own, and the UC Davis – Center for Poverty and Inequality Research.
- Kira has done a tremendous amount of work in her young career; we are certain she will be very successful. Be sure to follow her throughout her career.
Below is a summary of the wine offerings from Olivia Brion and Cantadora that we covered with Kira. The links below are to our full reviews. If you are interested in ordering and trying these wines, you will find some of these wines via your favorite fine wine shop or on top quality wines lists. You can also purchase these wines on the Olivia Brion and Cantadora websites.
1) Olivia Brion 2021 WB “Taquine White” (California) $30 (KWGTP 90)
2) Olivia Brion 2019 Grenache “Mon Amour Interdit Shake Ridge Ranch” (Amador County) $36 (KWGTP 90)
3) Olivia Brion 2019 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) $50 (KWGTP 90.5)
4) Olivia Brion 2019 Tempranillo “Les Vagabondes Shake Ridge Ranch” (Amador County) $40 (KWGTP 92)
5) Cantadora 2019 Red Blend “The Sage Shake Ridge Ranch Red” (Amador County) $50 (KWGTP 91.5)
6) Cantadora 2019 Mourvèdre “The Healer Shake Ridge Ranch” (Amador County) $50 (KWGTP 92)
7) Cantadora 2019 Tempranillo “The Protector Shake Ridge Ranch” (Amador County) $50 (KWGTP 91)
You can find reviews of past and future Olivia Brion wines that we cover on the Olivia Brion KWG winery page on our website. For Cantadora wines, please check out the Cantadora KWG winery page on our website. We hope you enjoy these terrific wines as much as we did. Cheers! – Ken