Home Celebrities Dr Christine Wachira: Meet Medic Who Became the First Kenyan Winemaker In...

Dr Christine Wachira: Meet Medic Who Became the First Kenyan Winemaker In the US

Dr Christine Wachira who is the founder of Wachira Wines in California , USA PHOTO: Wachira Wines

Winemaking is a challenging profession, and for Dr Christine Wachira who already had a successful stint in the healthcare field, downing her tools was a risk she was willing to take to nurture a dream of being a winemaker.

The doctor who was born and raised in Kenya, relocated to the US with her family in the 1990s where she began her studies in medicine. She would later proceed to venture into healthcare, where she worked for 15 years until she decided to pursue her true passion which was winemaking.

But to reinvent herself into a winemaker, she had to familiarize herself with the trade, and she embarked on visiting vineyards in California’s Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles regions. Dr Christine bonded with fellow wine enthusiasts over wine tastings, where she found herself craving her own creation.

With her background in science, she used her knowledge to identify gaps in the industry and find solutions. In her case, she could not find wine that complemented her mother’s Kenyan cooking and she decided to fix the problem by crafting wines for her.

“I decided to fix it and craft some wines for her. I learned wine-making techniques from friends who owned wineries; techniques such as developing my palate, locking down my signature Kenyan Accent, the ageing processes, etc., and the rest, as they say, is HERstory,” she said in an interview.

In 2017, Wachira founded her winery dubbed Wachira Wines, the first Kenyan-American winery in the US, where she merges Californian winemaking techniques with Kenyan cultural elements. She hosts a sensory experience christened ‘The Wachira Wine Safari’ which takes wine enthusiasts on a journey through the flavours of the Kenyan landscape.

Wachira Wines offers three collections, the Black Label, the Rose Gold Collection and the Queens Collection. The Black label is the most popular, featuring Africa’s Big Five on the bottles; Chardonnay (Buffalo), Cabernet Sauvignon (Rhino), Zinfandel (Elephant), Muscat (Leopard), and a Sparkling white (Lion).

The Gold Collection features a Rose (Impala), while The Queens Collection offers natural wines, including a Pinot Noir and a White blend.

Her journey has been challenging, and the vintner has shared her struggles which include financial difficulties, production limitations and skepticism by potential buyers. She also does not own her winery’s vineyards, opting to source grapes in the wine regions of California.

To aspiring winemakers, she advised them to be diligent in learning the craft and being prepared financially to invest in the business as it takes a lot of money and resources for it to pick.

“Wine is a very capital-intensive business because you can easily spend over $100,000 [Kshs 12.9 million] on a product before you taste it. If you choose to make wine, commit yourself to learning the craft of winemaking and the business of wine. Be patient and trust the process because it will not be easy, but it is doable, is rewarding, and the R&D is very enjoyable,” she said.

The wine is sold in over 44 states in the US and is found at Disneyland, and in various restaurants and bars. Her goal is to penetrate the entire US market as well as begin exporting to Kenya before the end of the year.

Christine encourages aspiring winemakers to step out of the herd and innovate, and remain resilient as it is eventually rewarding. She has secured crucial partnerships and received positive feedback from early adopters, fueling her ambition to scale greater heights in the industry.

She also advises people to venture into alternative avenues in the industry other than winemaking which include sommeliers, event planners, wine educators and wine editors among others as they help in diversification and also yield great returns.

Talk to us

Thanks for reading our article.