|After twenty-eight years of making wine, Kent Rasmussen Winery is as busy as ever, with a few changes.
Kent Rasmussen and wife, Celia Ramsay, ran the family winery they started in 1986 at their beautiful facility in St. Helena. Unlike most wineries in the Napa Valley, they never wanted to have a public presence in the form of a tasting room, but sell their wines in Bay Area & California restaurants & stores, and in 28 other states. Famous for the Kent Rasmussen and Ramsay brand wines, and best known for making “purely poetic Pinot Noir”, the couple raised their family of four on the Silverado Trail property.
The kids grew up and fledged the nest, and Kent and Celia realized they longed for a more urban life. They moved their winemaking operations to share another family-run facility owned by their long-time friend, Stefano Migotto in Napa. Then they bought a home in Berkeley. With a very reasonable reverse-commute to Napa, Kent is happy to be back in the southern end of the Napa Valley, especially since his original winemaking start was in the Napa-Carneros.
Kent’s passion for winemaking is as strong as ever. He has often stated that the unfortunate truth about wine is that you only get one chance a year to make it; he jokes, “I think I’m finally figuring out how it all works!” New projects for Kent include a wine brand that is sold in foreign markets only, under the label Six Eight Nine. His second passion is the Berkeley house-a Maybeck-designed home that was once owned by the Alfred Kroeber family. (Alfred Kroeber was the anthropologist famous for his work with Ishi, the last of the Yahi people of the Lassen area of California.) For those of you who are fantasy/sci-fi fiction fans, it is the house that Ursula K. LeGuin grew up in, and she claims the house made her into a writer.
And even though Celia still handles the winery compliance, she has picked up an old thread in her life-music. She’s becoming well known in the Bay Area music scene as a vocalist, studio artist and songwriter, with performances at the Freight and Salvage, and many house concerts, singing both traditional folk music and 1940s style Jazz. She has two bands that she works with: Luxury Edition for Jazz, and Glamourie for Celtic-flavored folk. Celia continues to work as a professional dance teacher from Ukiah to Monterey “calling” the New England style form called Contra Dance.
Since its modest beginnings in a garage in 1986, the Kent Rasmussen Winery has evolved as its owner’s lives have changed. It continues to be one of the most important Pinot Noir producers in California.