“I had two goals: to create beautifully structured wines that reflect the vineyards they come from; and to be involved in every aspect making wine.”
Karen’s wine career started in 1988, when she marketed Cakebread Cellars wines in Hong Kong and Singapore. A year later, she moved to Napa Valley to oversee the winery’s educational, corporate hospitality and international marketing efforts. During that time, she also worked to promote the Napa Valley through her involvement with the Napa Valley Vintners, the non-profit trade organization responsible for promoting and protecting the appellation and its wines. She served on the association’s Board of Directors, chaired various marketing committees, served on the steering committee for its annual fundraiser, Auction Napa Valley—the world’s largest charity wine auction—and was a co-chair when Cakebread Cellars chaired the Auction in 2006.
Karen started ZIATA in 2008 with two varietals, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, which she chose for their food-friendly qualities. She sourced grapes from sustainable sources, working closely with the grape growers through the growing season, knowing that efforts made in the vineyard would create better wine than those manipulated in the cellar.
In 2009, she added a Cabernet Franc to the portfolio, and in 2010, planted a one-acre Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in her backyard in Calistoga. She remains involved in every aspect of her wine, from vineyard sourcing to harvesting, blending, bottling and selling.
Karen continues to support her community and enjoys volunteering and serving on local boards and committees. ZIATA is a member of the Napa Valley Vintners, and Karen currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the Calistoga Winegrowers and the St. Helena Hospital Foundation.
Beyond ZIATA, living and working abroad fed Karen’s sense of adventure and passion for exploring the world, and her journeys—beyond work-related travel—have taken her through many countries including Nepal, Turkey, Mongolia, Africa, and India. She was a founding board member of Elaine Mackie Charitable Trust, which raised money for breast cancer research by trekking mountains around the world, including Mt. Kilimanjaro, with other like-minded Napa Valley women.
And as much as she enjoys exploring the world, Karen’s roots are now firmly planted in Calistoga, where she, her lovable Labrador, Neela, and her Sauvignon Blanc vines live.