Firstleaf, America’s most personalized wine company, today announced the appointment of Dr. Marinda Kruger as the company’s Director of Winemaking.
With more than 20 years of winemaking experience and a Ph.D. in Wine Biotechnology, Dr. Kruger will apply her expertise to developing Firstleaf’s award-winning wines, leveraging the company’s unique access to member feedback, data and technology to continue to bring the highest quality wines from around the world to its members.
Previously based in South Africa, Dr. Kruger was awarded an O-1A Extraordinary Ability in Science visa (known colloquially as the “genius visa”) to join Firstleaf at its Napa Valley headquarters.
Dr. Kruger joins Firstleaf from Elgin Vintners, where she served as Business Manager and Winemaker responsible for the winery’s production, sales, marketing, and financial operations. Under Dr. Kruger’s management, the company achieved profitability after just two years.
Throughout her career, Dr. Kruger’s deep understanding of how chemistry and data analysis can be applied to the wine industry has resulted in award-winning wines for vineyards across the globe. Prior to Elgin Vintners, she held several business-critical winemaking roles at Walker Bay Wine Estate, Boutinot South Africa, Namaqua Wines, and more.
“As an expert winemaker and data scientist, Dr. Kruger possesses the rare combination of skills, passion, and expertise we’ve been searching for,” said Philip James, Firstleaf’s founder and CEO. “Her understanding of both the science and business of wine will bring a new level of innovation to our personalized approach to winemaking.”
The wines Dr. Kruger has produced have been recognized by the most prestigious wine and spirits competitions across the world, including:
Concours Mondial du Sauvignon (“Sauvignon World Competition”), 2022, 2021 and 2020
Michelangelo International Wine Awards, 2020 and 2019
International Wine Challenge, 2022, 2015 and 2013
“Firstleaf represents an accumulation of my passions – science and wine,” said Dr, Kruger. “I’m thrilled to be joining this forward-thinking team of wine experts to further shift how consumers shop for and enjoy wine.”
Firstleaf brings together proprietary technology, expert winemakers and a WSET-certified concierge team, to build a unique Wine Profile for each member and curate each shipment individually. With no preset packs or boxes, Firstleaf has over 82 million combinations of wines possible and 98% of its monthly boxes are unique. Its team of winemakers sample over 10,000 wines each year across 5 continents and 12 countries to select only the finest bottles. With more than 700,000 12-bottle cases sold last year, Firstleaf is the #1 trusted wine brand in consumer rankings. Nearly one million people have tried Firstleaf since the brand’s inception.
Its wines have won over 2,800 awards, including over 300 90+ point scores, and 92% of its wines are award-winning. In 2022, for the second year in a row, Firstleaf appeared on Inc. 5000’s list, which honors the fastest-growing private companies in America. Firstleaf was also awarded Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies in the data science category and was recognized as one of Wine Business Monthly’s 50 Largest Wineries. This came on the heels of being named Wine Company of the Year in Winemaker Challenge International’s 2021 wine competition, one of the only U.S. wine competitions judged exclusively by professional winemakers.
To learn more about Firstleaf, including career opportunities, visit www.firstleaf.com.