Winemaker Kristy Melton

Kristy Melton and the Future of a Napa Valley Icon

As only the eighth winemaker since 1886, Kristy Melton inherits the forward-thinking vision of Freemark Abbey. She says, “nature doesn't stand still, and neither does our winemaking.”

Newly appointed as the successor to longtime Freemark Abbey winemaker Ted Edwards, the accomplished Kristy Melton brings over a decade of fine winemaking experience to the St. Helena winery.

Kristy is an El Paso, Texas native and graduated from Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. She received a BS in Biology and Animal Science, and this passion for science led to the first phase of her career as a research scientist at the prestigious National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. 

Living in the pricey DC metropolitan area, she supplemented her NIH wages by bartending and, in a key turn of events, got hired part-time at a winery in Maryland. The exposure she received through this job to wine and food piqued her interest in both. A subsequent family trip to Napa Valley inspired her to shift her focus towards wine, a discipline that engaged both this new interest and her scientific capabilities. She enrolled at the University of California at Davis where she earned a Masters in Viticulture and Enology in 2007. 

Kristy Melton Freemark Abbey Winemaker

Kristy’s winemaking résumé, which includes Saintsbury, Clos du Val, and her own consulting service, is impressive. Equally impressive are her three years as Bordeaux Winemaker for Jackson Family Wines, which saw her overseeing the Cabernet and Merlot-centric programs for a number of JFW properties at the same time. In this position, Kristy found her way into Ted Edwards’ universe and shared winemaking space with him.

“During this time,” as Ted wrote in Freemark’s Fall 2019 newsletter, “I had the unique opportunity to be at tastings and in meetings with Kristy, observing her skill set with Bordeaux varieties, her exceptional palate and knowledge of grape growing, and to see her love of Napa Valley.”

“I am overjoyed with her interest in Freemark Abbey wines,” he enthused about his successor.

Kristy was honored to be named among Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s "Top 40 under 40 Tastemakers" as well as Drinks Business’ "Top 30 under 40 Winemakers to Watch." This recognition of her talents, along with her formidable winemaking skills, has set the stage for a promising future at Freemark Abbey.