Cristie Kerr started playing golf at age 8 and since then has enjoyed one of the most successful professional careers in women’s golf, accumulating 14 wins on the LPGA Tour, including a victory at the U.S. Women’s Open, six Solheim Cup selections and more than 130 top-10 finishes in official LPGA events.
Kerr, who developed a love for wine while on the tour and who has a collection of 1,500 bottles, is also actively involved in fund-raising for breast cancer research, having witnessed her mother, aunt and godmother battle the disease. In 2007, she partnered with Pride Mountain Vineyards to create Curvature Wines, which helps raise money for breast cancer charities. The Curvature Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007 was served at the White House last year, a distinction Kerr calls a “huge honor.” She recently spoke with Wine Spectator about her favorite wine regions, her quest to become a certified sommelier and why blind tasting is important.
Wine Spectator: How did you get interested in wine?
Cristie Kerr: For many years, we had a tournament in Napa. I’d always play the early practice round and then go around and do wine tastings with my friends. I fell in love with Napa Valley. From there, my learning was more cumulative. I got a map to see where everything was; I fell in love with different labels. There was some sort of mystical lure this place had for me. And when I learn about something, I like to learn about everything.
WS: How did the Curvature label start?
CK: From years of traveling around, thinking, “I can do that.” If I put my mind to something, it usually gets done. [Suzanne Pride] told me all of the drawbacks of having my own label, and she asked me why I want to do this. It’s because I’m interested in wine, and it’s maybe something I can do after golf. I’m interested in what it takes, the A to Z of it all.
WS: You’re studying for the sommelier exam?
CK: Yes, I’m hoping to be a sommelier one day. I have no doubt I’ll be a level II sommelier [in the Court of Master Sommelier’s accreditation system]. I have a good palate; I’m a good student. I have a photographic memory for wine. I would love to own a restaurant someday. Hopefully with someone else’s money!
WS: Do you get to travel to other wine regions besides Napa?
CK: My husband and I went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and we’re planning a trip to Tuscany. I’m planning on visiting Ornellaia and staying in Montepulciano. I’ve been to South Africa [and] Brazil. There are many wonderful wines made all over the world. It depends on how the schedule works out, but I try to get to Napa at least once a year. And at restaurants, I try to order wine that’s not familiar in order to learn something new.
WS: What’s your approach to buying wine?
CK: I would say that between [our homes in] New York and Arizona, we have a little more than 1,500 bottles. We have what we like to drink. For reds, they have to have the ability to age. People [ask], “What kind of wine do you like to drink?” It depends on the mood, and on what I’m eating.
WS: You used to have a wine-themed blog. Do you find it difficult to describe wines?
CK: I’m Tweeting about wine now. I’m pretty good—I wouldn’t say I’m an all-star. It’s fun for me. I’ve been in [a wine club], and it’s all guys. I was the first female to be there. I found it interesting that they knew all the wines; they weren’t tasting blind. They were rating the wines, but they couldn’t say why they liked them. I’m at the side, making notes about tobacco and leather, and I was like, “Why can’t you talk about it?” I think to rate wines, you truly need to taste wines blind. I didn’t disagree with their choices, but was it because of the name of the wine or because of their palate?