2021 Wine & Brew Masters

Meet our Winemaster: Trevor Durling

Trevor Durling

Trevor Durling grew up in Sonoma County, at the heart of Northern California’s wine country, where wine was a staple at his family dinner table. Following high school, Durling intended to join the ROTC program at the University of California, Davis, and become an officer in the US Air Force. His grandfather, a 37-year air force veteran, had done. After a brief time as an undergraduate at Davis, however, he enrolled in an introduction to winemaking class and was immediately enamored. Trevor realized that winemaking united his love of agriculture, science, and cuisine and transferred to the UC Viticulture and Enology program.

After a harvest internship at the Russian River Valley’s Sonoma-Cutrer winery in 2003, Durling worked two consecutive seasons for Gloria Ferrer winery’s sparkling wine harvests. In late 2005, Durling joined Moon Mountain Vineyard, a small, well-regarded organic vineyard in Sonoma Valley.

“Moon Mountain was a great place to start my career,” he said. “I got to work on exceptional, small-lot wines made primarily from Bordeaux-style grapes grown in mountain terroir.”

In March of 2010, Durling joined Provenance Vineyards and Hewitt Vineyard as assistant winemaker. His first contributions were integral to Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, earning Wine Spectator’s 2013 #4 Wine of the Year. In early 2015, Trevor succeeded founding winemaker Tom Rinaldi and previous winemaker Chris Cooney to lead winemaker. Trevor worked hand-in-hand with Tom and Chris, crafting highly regarded wines that continued a rich winemaking legacy until June 2017, when he took the mantel of chief winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard.

At Beaulieu Vineyard, Durling presides as the fifth chief winemaker in the winery’s 117-year history, following esteemed previous chief winemaker Jeffrey Stambor. Respectful and humbled by BV’s storied history, Trevor joins the winemaking team keenly aware of his role in shaping the winery’s future.

“Early in my winemaking career, I recall trying the 1968 Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with a family friend,” he noted. “It not only left an indelible impression on me, but it shaped the path of my career and the wines I wanted to create. I’m honored to begin this new role at Beaulieu at such an exciting and pivotal time—entering a new chapter of growth and relevance in today’s market and culture—while preserving BV’s rich heritage and legacy.”

In addition to his career as a full-time winemaker, Durling currently serves as an informal ambassador for California wine country to Travis Air Force Base, where he educates service members on Napa and Sonoma wine news. He is an active board member of the Rutherford Dust Society, which produces and supports charity events in the community, including Auction Napa Valley, a four-day charity wine event sponsored by Napa Valley Vintners that distributes proceeds 25 local and strategic initiatives to aid community health and children’s education.

In his free time, Durling is an avid golfer, snowboarder, enthusiastic fan of the San Francisco Giants, and has a passion for music, playing piano, trumpet and guitar. He also loves to barbeque, cook at home and explore wines of the world.

Meet our Winemaster: Kimberlee Nicholls

Kimberlee Nicholls

Over a career spanning almost 30 years, Kimberlee Nicholls has earned a reputation as one of Napa Valley’s most talented and respected winemakers. With a gifted palate and three decades of Napa Valley winemaking knowledge and experience, Nicholls crafts wines of uncommon character and complexity from Markham’s 350 acres of Napa Green certified sustainable estate vineyards Yountville, Oak Knoll, and Calistoga. From this prized fruit, Nicholls continues Markham’s long tradition of making benchmark Merlots recognized for their structure and vineyard-inspired sophistication, as well as acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignons, Sauvignon Blancs, and Chardonnays.

As a winemaker, Nicholls finds inspiration in her love of pairing great food and wine. An accomplished cook and baker, Kim thoroughly enjoys hosting small dinner parties for family and friends—including her two grown sons—creating wonderful memories that showcase the relationship between lovingly prepared food and artfully made wines.

After earning a degree in biology from Willamette University in 1989, Nicholls’ fascination with the science of winemaking led her to the lab at Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. She honed her craft before joining Markham Vineyards in 1993. After four years of hands-on experience in the vineyards and winery, she was promoted to associate winemaker in 1997 and winemaker in 2001. Nicholls is an empowering leader who loves to work collaboratively with her team to constantly inspire, improve and innovate, with a special focus on Markham’s renowned Merlot program.

“Merlot is the first wine I fell in love with when I arrived in Napa. In my opinion, it is the perfect food wine,” said Nicholls. In the last two decades leading the winemaking team, Kim’s artistry, innovative spirit, and encyclopedic knowledge of wine-growing and winemaking have helped Markham Vineyards earn countless accolades an enduring place as one of Napa Valley’s great wineries.