10 questions: From finance to wine: Ballotta carves out a new career in the wine industry | Company

Kira Ballotta found her way into the wine industry through money.

“I was working in finance in the valuation area,” Ballotta explained.

After working on a few vineyard acquisitions in Napa and Paso Robles, “I took a closer look. »

From there, Ballotta met David Mahaffey, a local Napa winemaker (and founder of Olivia Brion) and offered to help him over the weekend.

“I see myself as the guest who never left. Now I can manage this brand with my new brand, Cantadora.”

1. What was your childhood ambition?

I wanted to be an architect. I loved Julia Morgan and Frank Lloyd Wright. I’m still inspired by buildings, but I don’t sit down and draw them anymore like I did in middle school.

2. Who would you most like to have dinner with?

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I saw the 14th Dalai Lama give a lecture when I was a student at the University of Washington. Any time spent near him is spent with joy; it definitely makes the list. Maya Angelou; her impact on the world is so much deeper than poetry and her poetry is extraordinary – it would be a privilege to hear all that she had to say. And my maternal grandmother, I miss her all the time.

3. How long have you been in the wine industry?

The first harvest I was involved in was in 2011. My first commercial winemaking vintage for Olivia Brion was in 2016. I took over all the winemaking in 2019. And in 2022, I took over responsibility. fully owned and launched my new brand, Cantadora. Olivia Brion highlights stories of women from the early 20th century (oliviabrion.com). Cantadora focuses on the stories of women today who are giving back to their communities in extraordinary ways (cantadora.wine).

4. What is the biggest challenge the wine industry has faced?

Climate change is definitely at the top of the list for California. The lack of rainfall in many regions and the overall reduction in access to water and irrigation will reshape our vineyard landscapes. I believe our industry will continue to evolve, and I find encouraging the dedication of many to regenerative agriculture, hybrid varietals, diversity and inclusion, fair wages, and innovative packaging. We will need all great minds to solve these huge and imposing problems on declining crops and resources in general.

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5. Who do you admire most in the business world?

I really admire Alice Waters’ impact on the food industry. I think his movement for local and organic foods can be felt by everyone in the food and beverage world.

6. If you could change one thing in the wine industry, what would it be?

A big change: I would change all agriculture to organic. I don’t think there is any reason to pollute the air or the water in order to make luxury products like wine.

A small change: I would change all the labels to be made from 100% post-consumer waste. Paper looks the same and may actually be cheaper. If you run a business with labels, just ask your sales rep for a sample! Such an easy change.

7. What’s on your to-do list?

Raising my two little boys aged 2 and 5. It’s hard to think beyond parenting at this point in life, but I’d also like to continue traveling and challenge myself to write more. With my new wine brand, Cantadora, I want to build a whole community around the love of wine as a puzzle piece in this larger world of art, food and storytelling – but that dream keeps coming. train day by day.

8. What might people be surprised to learn about you?

I was born in New York. I moved to California at age 3 and my family has been here for five generations. California is my country, but I still consider New York my hometown.

9. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your life that you haven’t yet accomplished?

I would like to write a book. The subject did not occur to me. The only thing that sticks in my head is a story based on science fiction and I don’t even read a lot of science fiction. I need a new muse.

10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

Without a doubt, exactly where I am. I love Napa and California. I can live with my wonderful husband and two little boys. My mom moved here from Sacramento a few years ago, so I’m close to the extended family. My son is starting kindergarten in Browns Valley in the fall and I look forward to getting more deeply involved in our Browns Valley community.

Info: info@oliviabrion.com