For Katherine Derby, Spring Valley Vineyard is much more than a winery – it’s also home. Kate is the granddaughter of Spring Valley vineyard owners Dean and Shari Corkrum Derby and great-great-granddaughter of Spring Valley founder Uriah Corkrum. As a child growing up in Minnesota, she spent every summer at the ranch at Spring Valley, where early on she learned all about the workings of the wheat farm and winery.
“Growing up at Spring Valley, I spent summers hoeing the rows with my grandfather and racking wine with my Uncle Devin,” the winery’s founding winemaker, recalls Derby. “When the end of summer came, I never wanted to leave. I knew this is where I would spend my life.”
A week after graduating with a degree in Psychology from Minnesota’s Bethel University, Derby moved to the ranch and began working full time for Spring Valley Vineyard, helping to manage the tasting room and giving tours of the winery and farm.
“One of my favorite things about my job is the visitors who become friends after they are here,” says Derby. “The family connection and the uniqueness of our 100% estate produced wines mean that everyone can relate to us on a personal level.”
“I love being able to tell my family story to people who are interested in hearing about it and enjoy our wonderful wines! Some of our customers have been with us since Day One, and they feel like extended family.”
In addition to hosting visitors in Walla Walla, Derby represents Spring Valley around the country at wine tastings and educational events, often working with Winemaker Serge Laville to share Spring Valley’s story and wines with new audiences.
“Serge worked with Uncle Devin and is like an uncle to me,” says Derby. “We love to talk together to people about the winemaking and history of Spring Valley. I really enjoy going into a restaurant or wine shop and talking about our wines and what goes on at the winery and on the farm.”
Derby is the mom to two young boys, Uriah and Malachi, “so I don’t have too much extra time on my hands!” she jokes. “I love seeing the boys grow and am looking forward to their involvement in our family business.” In what spare time she does have, Derby enjoys trying new wines, including Cabernet Sauvignons, Cabernet Franc, and Malbecs; running, reading, and photography.