Owner Kristin Holzman
When you ask someone what success means to them, you typically get an answer centered around material wealth and possessions, but for Prince Michel owner and CEO Kristin Swanson Holzman success is so much more.
Kristin’s arrival onto the Virginia wine scene was not just happenstance. It involved a journey of personal growth and perseverance which is playing out as a fantastic adventure for this vivacious entrepreneur. Born and raised in the upper peninsula of Michigan, Kristin earned a degree in Interior Design from the University of Wisconsin. Never one to dismiss a challenge, Kristin took her degree which specialized in luxury yacht interiors to Rhode Island where she gained the experience and expertise that led her to establish her own design company in Florida. “As you persevere, you grow. As you grow, you have more opportunities and of course more challenges.” Her successful design company flourished in Florida, but as with life, more opportunities and challenges arose. Kristin and her family, which include son Eric and daughter Nikki, made the move to Charlottesville, Virginia where the opportunities and challenges of a life-time would materialize.
Purchasing an historic property in Ivy, Virginia, Kristin found herself soon immersed into the culture which surrounded her. The decades old vines of Viognier just yards from her front door and the rolling hills of sought after Merlot where daily reminders of how as stewards of our earth, Kristin had a new inspiration. Selling her grapes was no problem. Meticulously maintained vines which boasted the pedigree of being some of the oldest in Virginia were the lure which attracted attention from some of the best winemakers on the east coast. One such winemaker was “right down the road” in Madison, Virginia. Renowned vineyard consultant Chris Hill and Prince Michel winemaker Brad Hansen forged a relationship with Kristin that lead to the next opportunity/challenge for Kristin—owning not just a winery, but one of the oldest and largest wineries in Virginia.
Prince Michel Vineyard and Winery was established in 1983 by Jean and Silvian LeDucq. Their love of wine, good business sense, and frequent visits to the US from their native France were perfect ingredients for starting a winery during the infancy period of Virginia’s now successful industry. Steeped in tradition, Prince Michel soon gained the status as an “Old World” winery on the east coast. This strong, steady, and established reputation made Prince Michel a solid opportunity for Kristin’s next adventure. In July of 2005, Kristin became one of a handful of female winery owners in the world.
One encounter with Kristin and you’re immediately taken with her exuberance and vitality. If there’s something an established, steady, “Old World” winery needs, it’s exuberance and vitality! Kristin’s fresh and innovative approach to Prince Michel challenged not only its business model but the basic philosophy of how to experience wine. Her attitude that wine is to be enjoyed resounded throughout all aspects of Prince Michel and continues to be a benchmark for all they do. Under Kristin’s stewardship, Prince Michel has moved into a new and exciting era of American winemaking.
So what does success mean for Kristin? It’s best summed up in her own words:
“ Success means overhearing lively conversations between friends over a glass of Chardonnay in the courtyard outside my office window. Success means helping find that perfect gift for your special occasion. Success means sharing great times with employees and their families.” Kristin Swanson Holzman