Leaving Wall Street for Wine Country Jamie Kutch chucked a lucrative job to pursue his dream, becoming one of California's most respected vintners. Here's how one entrepreneur changed careers in midstream.
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It's December in San Francisco, and Jamie Kutch and his wife, Kristen Green, sit down at a window table at Zuni Café, one of the city's finest restaurants. Kutch opens the wine list and finds his name. He's seen it there before, but he never grows tired of feeling the thrill.
It isn't so much the name as what it represents. His Kutch Wines McDougall Ranch Pinot Noir 2009 is a tangible product. He sourced it from vineyards he tramped in himself. He crafted it with his hands, aged it in oak barrels he selected, then sold it to Zuni's wine director.
Though the wine is slotted into the domestic section, alongside heavy hitters like Caymus, Williams Selyem and Joseph Phelps, it has more in common stylistically with the Domaine Dujac and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Burgundies on offer just below. Those Pinot Noirs--French in origin, balletic in execution, soulful in spirit--are the kinds of wines Kutch had fallen for while working in finance at Merrill Lynch in the late 1990s. Those wines inspired him to leave New York for a life among the vineyards of Northern California.