Hendrix experience naturally leads German major to start winery

Jay Kell '99 recently launched a new Sonoma County winery. Verge Wine Cellars is a small winery based out of Healdsburg, Calif., about an hour north of San Francisco.

“ ‘Learning a language is a lot like life.’ Those were the first words Hal Allen said to us as we entered German 100,” Kell recalls. “‘You have to be open to possibility, open to change, and to experiencing new things.’ We learned how to “dump our heads” (a tool I still use) and visualize words in German.”Kell

Kell, a German major, sees his career as an extension of the Hendrix experience that he shared with his wife Emily Collins ’00. “Part of my journey at Hendrix was indeed spent conjugating verbs and wrapping my head around dependent clauses,” Kell says. “But another part, a more important part, was spent expanding my own idea of myself and what I wanted from life.”

“One of my motivations to start Verge Wine Cellars was the need to produce something natural and organic and then introduce it to people in a creative and evocative way,” Kell says. “Part of evaluating a wine is being open to how it will taste.”

Wine Bottle“That openness also means being conscious that the wine comes from a particular place in the world, has been touched by many hands, has been a part of an idea and has traveled quite a journey to get to your glass,” Kell relates. “My journey began at Hendrix und gott sei dank dass ich Deutch gelernt.”*

The new winery’s first release is a 2006 Syrah from Dry Creek Valley. The inaugural vintage of Verge Syrah, harvested from the mountainous edge of Dry Creek Valley, had an initial production of 350 cases, only available via the company’s mailing list and in select Bay Area restaurants.

For more information, visit www.vergewine.com, created by alumna Janette Balleza ’00.

*rough translation: and thank god that I learned German