Based in California, Dr Wachira is winning accolades with her Wachira Wines Collection
California is the leading producer of wine in USA, accounting for 90 percent of all the wine made in the Trump Country. The wines of California are known around the world for their quality and diversity.
One of the wineries attracting attention in Carlifornia is Wachira Wines, founded by a Kenyan born healthcare specialist Dr Chris Wachira.
Wachira Wines is a family owned Urban Winery and a culmination of the extraordinary vision and effort of Dr. Wachira, the first Kenyan-born, Californian winemaker, distributor, importer and exporter.
After her high school education at the prestigious Loreto Limuru, Wachira emigrated to California in the late 1990s.
In the mid-2000s, she discovered California's wine country and fell in love with the science of wine-making.
After refining her wine palette and learning the art of wine making from families that had been in the industry for generations, her new American dream was born...to produce a wine that celebrated her dual heritage.
A wine that invoked memories of the moments shared with family and friends and complimented her childhood cuisine. She developed a deep appreciation for the sense of community built from sharing a bottle of wine with complete strangers.
Her story is about the love of her home country and the ability to succeed through adversity.
While working her way through college, earning her Doctorate, and dedicating her life to Clinical Outcomes research, Chris fell in-love with the science of winemaking. She developed a deep appreciation for the sense of community and bridges built from sharing a bottle of wine with complete strangers.
Chris celebrates the ability to realize one's dreams and emphasizes the importance of family and one’s roots. She has created an international wine that celebrates Kenyan culture, Kenyan values, and her dual Kenyan-American adventure.
A wine that is truly Kenyan-American. Wachira, her family name, has been passed down for generations; in translation it means "one who deals with cases" such as an attorney or a judge. Hundreds of years later, she now deals with "cases" of wine. Chris chooses to believe wine-making was written in her stars.
Wachira Wines is committed to creating unforgettable experiences featuring our #winesafari moments shared with family and friends. When we put our family name on our wines, we ensure they deliver the highest quality vintages. We are more than a wine label, we are a lifestyle.
Dr Wachira spoke to Business Illustrated, in an exclusive Interview
How is Wachira Wines doing so far?
That’s a loaded question lol. Considering it was a dream about four years ago, we are incredibly blessed. It has been amazing to watch the market here in the U.S. embrace our wines and appreciate my Kenyan palate to the extent where they want to know more about Kenya and my heritage. We have been invited to participate in multiple wine festivals in the Bay Area and recently got invited to be one of the fifteen Black-owned wineries showcased at the Essence Festival in New Orleans in 2019! I now have such a sense of fulfilment and peace that in some small way I have made both my mom and dad proud.
Kenya is not as a wine making country, how did you get to start wine making business?
I have a deep love of science and an almost geeky curiosity around processes, efficiencies and variances. It is this love and curiosity that got me behind the scenes in vineyards here in California. Residing in California with its amazing wine regions, I was deeply intrigued by how vines from the same exact varietals could produce such significant differences in wine notes purely based on the environment or terroir. I also loved wine as a consumer and spent quite a bit of time in Napa, Lodi and Livermore wine tasting with friends and family.
Then several years ago, I travelled to Nairobi with some of my girlfriends and while at dinner I asked if they had any Chardonnays from California. The restaurant did not. I was a little surprised and disappointed because I happen to think California has some pretty phenomenal wines. Upon further digging around during that trip, I realized that there was a budding wine culture in Nairobi with plenty of international wines but there was very limited selection from California.
Upon my return to the U.S. I shared my experience with my, now, fiancé and expressed my deep interest in crafting a wine that celebrated both my Kenyan heritage and my love of Californian wines.
Everything on our labels has a dual meaning. Wachira, our family name, is a Kikuyu name which translates into “one who deals with cases” such as a judge or an attorney. Prophetically enough, generations later, we’re dealing with “cases of wine”. The “Wachira” logo on the back label boasts both Kenyan and American flag colors – a tribute to my dual Kenyan-American heritage; The ‘W’ on the front label celebrates the boldness of our African heritage and interestingly resembles the crossed-arm ‘Wakanda’ salute; the ‘big five’ on each front label celebrate my Kenyan “safari” heritage. I’m very #proudlykenyan
Are you making wine full time? What about your clinical research profession?
I currently work a 9a-5p in Neuroscience Clinical Outcomes research at Stanford Hospital and maintain the winemaking as my 5p-9p 😊 I love and deeply enjoy both. I am as passionate about improving patient outcomes and identifying solutions to bridge patient safety gaps as I am about crafting wine varietals that complement our African cuisine. I also have a nonprofit that functions as a platform for, one, teaching improvement science in Africa through partnerships and collaborations and secondly, that is looking to address the side effects of depression in our immigrant communities here in the Bay Area.
Where is the Wachira Wine sold?
Our wines are retailed on our e-commerce site www.wachirawines.com. We are also served in multiple establishments - wine bars, lounges and restaurants, in the greater San Francisco Bay area.
Any plans to sell Wachira Wine in Kenya?
I would love to be able to export to Kenya. We have to identify distribution and storage capabilities that work for our products. Our target demographic is a little more niched, based on our price points, which are a reflection of the quality of grapes and the process that I use to craft our unique wine profiles. We currently have private clients who use the wines as gifts and as pairings at private events
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey. From Loreto Limuru to America
Oh dear, where do I start! Loreto Limuru (Kotet) is a significant cornerstone in my foundation. I spent my formative years learning how to be strong, driven, how to think outside-the-box, to challenge the status quo, how to care about others and uphold my integrity above all else. I developed lifelong friends who are part of my inner ‘sister circle’ to this day. These are women who challenge me to perform at my very best in all aspects of my life. They celebrate with me and cry with me. They’re my sisters.
My move to the U.S. was both very exhilarating and humbling at the same time. To start with, I broke one of my heels in Amsterdam while waiting for my connecting flight and unfortunately did not have a change of shoes. So, when I landed in Boston, I limped my way into this country with a broken heel and $500 to my name. This country offers a lot in the sheer amount of opportunities available while also constantly reminding you that you don’t quite belong. I had never questioned my ability to attain or achieve until I arrived in the U.S. There is something about the color of my skin and the curl in my 4C hair that is used to contain my ambition. I am deeply grateful for the village that raised me, that I grew up around and that I continue to surround myself with. I am forever in awe of my mother’s resilience and ability to nurture strong family bonds between my siblings & I and our extended family. We have learnt to feed off of each other, to support one another and through all of them I have been able to thrive in the U.S.