Cathy Corison’s greatest joy is being out in her vineyards. As the first woman winemaker-proprietor in the Napa Valley, she produces three cabernet sauvignons under Corison Winery; each one handcrafted without compromise. The grapes are sourced from some of the finest vineyards in the Napa Valley, all located on classic benchland between Rutherford and St. Helena, where deep, stony alluvial soils provide ideal growing conditions for the cabernet vine. Cathy is honored to have had a front seat for more than 45 years as Napa Valley was established as one of the best places in the world to grow grapes and make wine. She was the San Francisco Chronicle Winemaker of the Year in 2011 (Corison Winery’s 25th anniversary.) In 2018, 2019, and 2020, Cathy was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence in the Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer category.
“Great grapes make great wine. Period,” she says. “Wine is alive and plugs me into the earth – so alive that nearly 50 years after studying Biology at Pomona College, I’m still studying and learning something new every day. Starting to pick grapes as the sun rises is the best.”
Cathy landed in the Napa Valley in June 1975, days after graduating from Pomona College, with a vague notion that she wanted to make world-class wine. An M.S. in Enology from U.C. Davis in 1978 provided the technical foundation she needed to proceed. She went on to complete decades of winemaking for others, and founded Corison Winery in 1987 with the goal of making cabernet sauvignon that was powerful and elegant, had a sense of place, and was structured to grace the table and enjoy a long, distinguished life. With her husband, William Martin, she purchased Kronos Vineyard in 1995. William designed and built an onsite, Victorian-inspired winery barn, and nearby Sunbasket Vineyard was added to the portfolio in 2015. Corison Winery will harvest their 35th vintage in 2021, and daughters Rose and Grace have been working at the winery, on and off, since they were in utero.
In addition to winemaking, Cathy has been mentoring young women for decades, and is currently a mentor for the Bâtonnage program.Find her on Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn