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Brookdale Vineyards - Napa Valley


Rated 94 Points (while still in the barrel)- Wine Enthusiast magazine

The night of September 23, 2003 will forever live in the memory of Kristi Seitz. It was early that evening, sometime between 7:30 and 9 PM on that fateful date, that Kristi’s husband of three years was killed in a farming accident during nighttime harvesting.

Mike Seitz, 34, had operated a vineyard management company for several years, accounting for some 700-plus acres in the Napa County area. He did everything for his customers, from planting through harvesting and including total vineyard management. A few years ago, in 2000 to be exact, he and Kristi had offered their own initial winery release, some 500 cases of the first Brookdale Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon to rave reviews.

Mike and Kristi had met on a blind date arranged by friends and had found mutual attraction. Eighteen months later they had married. On March 2nd 2003, Kristi had given birth to their first child, Charlie Stephen and the world seemed the couple’s playground.

“Everything changed that September night,” Kristi recalled recently. “At first I can actually say I had no idea as to what to do, or where to turn. Mike was really a wonderful person and I feel that knowing him made me a better person. He was so goal oriented and was so driven by his passion for our winery. The fact that he was so well loved provided me with a group of friends that offered their help. This outpouring enabled me to get through this initial stage.”

As far as Brookdale Vineyards was concerned, Kristi Seitz’s initial responsibilities involved the business aspect of the venture where she fulfilled the bookkeeping duties and other office chores. Mike did most of the rest of the work, from arranging production and sales and marketing.

Now Kristi realizes that all that has changed. She is determined to carry on her beloved Michael’s dream and Napa insiders are willing to bet she will succeed.

“It’s true that I want to fulfill his vision,” she offered, “I just want to take the remainder of this year in stride and see how I do. Mike wouldn’t have wanted it any other way; he was that type of guy. Even thought it’s a little overwhelming right now, I know I will have lots of help and support.”

The fact is that Brookdale itself is on extremely firm ground. Mike had developed a marvelous relationship with winemaker Craig MacLean who had joined the operation in 2001 and is familiar with practically every aspect of Brookdale’s operation. Kristi Seitz is counting heavily on MacLean for the immediate future and is fully aware of his capabilities. Mike trusted Craig’s judgment”, she added, “and so will I.”

When Brookdale released their first wines in 2002, only 500 cases were made available for sale. Since then little has changed with regard to case levels and the foreseeable future will probably be more of the same.

“I am actually quite comfortable about the future,” Kristi explained further, Brookdale’s 2001 vintage is already allocated. It seems as if the general public is accepting the winery and that we have managed to maintain some really good relationships. All of that is extremely important for our future. Mike wanted to expand a little in the near future, but I’m not sure that is wise right now. I think I’ll just wait and see what happened then make our plans for the future.”

Kristi Seitz also has some added support from her family. She and her sisters Gina Longo and Bonnie Mott recently purchased the Soda Canyon Store on the Silverado Trail in eastern Napa from their mother who had run the entity for years. Kristi holds a business degree from Sacramento State and figures it will come in handy one day down the road.

One thing is for sure. Kristi Seitz is learning to deal with the hand she is holding and most people who know her feel she is winning.

If sheer determination and spirit can be counted in the equation, then Kristi Seitz and Brookdale Vineyards will eventually prove to be quite successful.

After all, Mike Seitz wouldn’t have it any other way.

We know you will enjoy this month’s Platinum Series Wine Club Selection.



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