Story By: Charlene Peters
A Serendipitous Journey
The symbiotic relationship between Julia Child and Katie Pratt couldn’t have been predicted way back in the ‘60s when these two Cantabs (residents of Cambridge, Mass.) first met.
“It was a family thing,” said Pratt, explaining their common thread as educators and creatives.
Pratt, owner of Katnip Wines, formed her first connection to wine during her youth. Her grandfather and father were wine buffs, and she would join her father, Herb Pratt, and Paul Child in their wine cellars to select bottles for dinners they shared as neighbors and friends. Paul gave her art lessons as a teenager while her mother Pat worked on the set of Julia’s television show, The French Chef, and would bring home recipes to test. Then, in the ‘80s, Pratt embarked on her own creative path and headed to Berkeley, Calif., where she worked for BAYFOOD magazine (now defunct).
“We interviewed many up-and-coming foodies in the Bay Area,” she recalled. “And then I worked at my first winery, Carmenet, part of the Chalone Wine Group portfolio, thanks to Julia, who probably called the owner, Richard Graff, and said I was interested in working at a winery.”
Admittedly, Pratt had no formal education as a winemaker, but through her years of firsthand experience at Carmenet and opportunities to work with an importer of organic French wines, she had learned a thing or two.
After Paul Child died (1994), Pratt paid tribute to him by publishing a book in 2017 titled France is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child (Thames and Hudson), co-created with Alex Prud’homme. Pratt also created and curated the eponymous exhibit “France is a Feast” at the Napa Valley Museum of Art.
Just as her book was a passion project, so is Katnip Wines. The concept for this Provençal-style rosé brand began as a personal dream inspired by entrepreneurial wine and foodie role models and friends. She created the playful name of Katnip, combining “Katie” with taking a “nip” of wine.
As a small, licensed winery working from her Napa residence, Pratt has four vintages under her belt, thanks to a custom crush facility she uses to produce 125 cases annually. Katnip Wines are sold in Napa at Foodshed Takeaway, First & Franklin Marketplace, Jeffries General, and direct to consumer.
Katnip Rosé 2021 is a food-friendly wine made in the Bandol style, with spicy, complex, and vibrant qualities attributed to a blend dominated by the Tempranillo and Mourvedre grapes. Pratt’s most recent release adds a little Grenache to the blend; all three grapes are sustainably grown in Yolo County.
The label speaks to Pratt’s art background working with glass blowing/fusing and color and design. It’s a photograph of fused glass she once made, with an added tribute to the Fibonacci Spiral.
“I’ve been the student of amazing teachers and inspirational wine and food creators in my life, and now I’m translating what I’ve learned into a personal and meaningful project,” she said.
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