Sharon Kazan Harris Owner and Director of Winemaking RARECAT Wines Sharon fell in love with wine in Bordeaux when she was 20 years old, a time when she was obsessed with speaking French and living abroad. There to study French, Bordeaux taught her some of the most important things in my life: an appreciation of fine food and wine, and a joie de vivre one gets from sharing those things with those we love and cherish.
Most people have long lists of accolades that define their life’s successes. For her, it is quite the opposite — success has been a result of fortuitous introductions, dreaming big ( with the ability to make ideas happen), and a willingness to try new things. Her love of food and wine directly stems from naive gumption, charm, and a desire to learn, all of which led her to my first wine experience at Haut Brion; then to living with France’s most famed cheese making family; and finally to a cooking internship under the wings of Amat, a famous 2 star chef in Bordeaux.
She longed to be in the wine industry for decades, but getting to Napa Valley was like driving on a windy, country road verses a toll highway. Spent many years working in executive positions in publishing (Managing Director of Miller Freedman’s International Division), advertising (President of an ad agency, Transphere), and technology (VP of Sales of Inktomi, an internet search engine start-up, internet consultant to VISA and Estamp) and a tech investor. Luckily a successful career in tech allowed her to trade computers for vineyards.
Undoubtedly the hardest thing she has accomplished is graduating with honors from the Universite de Bordeaux’s famed D.U.A.D. program, a technical oenology diploma taught in French. Today, she serves as the sole owner and Director of Winemaking for RARECAT Wines and oversee all aspects of our wine production in Napa, Bordeaux and Champagne. While promoting RARECAT, her greatest passion has been empowering women. She has used wine as a tool to bring together thousands of executives to connect with their stakeholders. She is proud to be the only American vintner producing estate wines in Champagne and Bordeaux.
Middle of No Where
Have you ever wondered where the middle of nowhere is? I found it - Wells, Nevada. Wells, Nevada is smack dab in the middle of Reno and Salt Lake City, roughly 250 miles from/to each city. It was at the Love’s gas station in Wells that I discovered I had a flat tire. A flat tire on the first day, the first leg of my 2 1/2 month RARECAT Tour Across America.
At the time I arrived at the Love’s gas station, I had never heard of Wells. According to Wikipedia, Wells is a small city in Elko County, in northeast Nevada in the western United States. The population was 1,292 in the 2010 census. Wells is located at the junction of Interstate 80 and U.S. Route 93, approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of Elko and is part of the Elko metropolitan area. From my vantage point, Wells only seemed to have 2 gas stations designed to handle large trucks and a Motel 6.
I called Enterprise Car Rental for help and when I found out that I could only drive 50 miles an hour for a maximum of 90 miles on the space… well, let’s say I need to apologize for my behavior. Within a few minutes the Napa office manager called and she suggested I look for a tire company. I make it clear I was in the middle of nowhere, in Wells Nevada, half way to nowhere on Hwy 80. I told her she could work on that solution since I was on hold with AAA. So she did. She called me back with Austin’s phone number. So, I called Austin.
Austin arrived, a 5’10”, slender man, wearing a blue work shirt and pants with tool pockets. His left arm had a dark, large tattoo of what looked like a screaming tormented skull. It was a large tattoo that covered most of his forearm. Austin showed up in a tow truck. He looked at the tire, jacked up my car, removed the tire. He said he would return in a few minutes with either a patched tire or a new tire. And he left. So, I ate lunch and waited. Within 15 minutes, Austin was back with a patched tire which he put back on the car. Austin was efficient, professional, and knowledgeable. In a total of 45 minutes, I was back on the road driving to Salt Lake City. It turns out within 1/4 mile of my broken down car was Pruett Tire Factory. Service is excellent, prices are fair, and people are nice... my kind of place.
I was reminded in the middle of nowhere, there are good people. There are good people everywhere and they come in all shapes and sizes. Austin had a beautiful 3 year old daughter who had a smile a mile wide. He and his wife dream of going to Hawaii. They charged me $56.00 to fix the tire. And they wished me good luck on the road trip across America.
Packing for a 2 1/2 Month RARECAT Road Tour
I have traveled extensively around the world since I was 20 years old. It was on my first trip to France that I fell in love with wine at 20 years old. I love to travel and I like traveling light. However, packing for a 2 1/2 month, 23 city RARECAT Road Tour with 45+ events, was a whole new level of coordination.
I find it easy to speak in front of 100 people - sharing stores and information about wine. I am confident in the cellar and kitchen, and I can hit a tennis ball with top spin but small details and being organized does not come naturally. Panic is a great teacher. I had lists within lists, many added to during numerous sleepless nights, and started ordering supplies weeks ago (Yes, I had Tide Spot sticks in case I spill wine on someone).
So.... here is my list. If you are planning a cross country trip as a vintner doing 45+ events... here is what you need to take.
2018 RARECAT Tour Packing List
- Coravin and capsules
- wine keys
- Champagne stoppers
- order forms
- RARECAT wooden box
- RARECAT magazines
- RARECAT t-shirts
- plastic bags
- hanging tags
- gift bags
- mailing list sign up form
- tour statistics with clip board
- emergency medical kit
- flash light
- pepper spray
- phone holder
- blanket to cover contents
- car organizer
- thermos for coffee from REI
- cooler larger enough to hold wine bottles
- ziplock bags (protect wine labels)
- garbage bags and hand wipes
- bathing suit
- Susan Bell moisturizer and sunscreen
- personal and business check books with enevelops
- business cards
- travel hair blower
- RARECAT wine glasses and dump bucket
- clothes & shoes
RARECAT Pro Emphasizes Wine as a Global Business Tool
Globalisation-driven connectivity has caused seismic sectoral cross-pollination; financial inclusion has driven e-sports and virtual gaming in to a global phenomenon. Artists are for the first time able to showcase their portfolios around the world to the most apropos bidders and wines have evolved from a luxury and recreational delicacy to a networking platform used to enhance business.
We had the opportunity to speak with Sharon Harris, Winemaker, Founder and CEO of RARECAT and RARECAT Pro on how to steer this revolution; how wine can be leveraged effectively as a business and business marketing tool.
Sharon is taking her seminars on the road this spring! Join her in her quest to bring women together and empower them with the message of using wine as a powerful business tool. Sharon draws on her experience of educating thousands of executive women at seminars and tastings over the last 7 years. Sharon will be conducting seminars as team building for corporations as well as hosting winemaker lunches and other appearances, also highlighting RARECAT’s current releases.
Watch the page on our website devoted to the trip for updates.
Sharon will be traveling to Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston, Hartford, New York, Washington, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, New Orleans, Houston, Ft. Worth, Dallas and Austin, beginning on April 2 and wrapping up on June 4.
Join Sharon for an empowering experience!
RARECAT Champagne, France ($79)
There are many vivacious personalities in the Napa Valley — people who are as unforgettable as their wines -- but one of the most dazzling is Sharon Kazan Harris, owner of RARECAT wines here in St. Helena. Sharon’s stories, such as taking a bus, nonplussed, after receiving a special invitation to Chateau Pavie when she was just 18 or 19, are rapid-fire and intermingled with tips and tricks to living an adventurous and meaningful life. When all this comes with one exquisite wine after another, you almost can’t believe your luck at having found her and RARECAT.
In addition to making a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon with iconic winemaker Joel Aiken, Sharon makes rosé, a St. Emilion wine, and a Crémant de Bordeaux, in addition to a Champagne. This richly textured and complexly divine Champagne is made in conjunction with Gonet, a highly respected Champagne house founded in 1830. Take a sip, and you will know what it is like to have a life well-lived.
Catherine Bugue is the Star’s tasting panel writer. Her weekly pursuit of a good glass of wine provides a nice supply of choices for the Wine of the Week column. If you’d like to submit a Napa Valley wine for this column, please send it to the Napa Valley Wine Academy, 2501 Oak St., Napa, CA 94559.