Lynda Kanzler attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and worked in Manhattan’s famed garment district during the early part of her career, but she found her true calling as a proprietor of Kanzler Family Vineyard. “I always asked myself what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she says. At Kanzler, where she keeps the books, manages events and interacts with customers, “I finally found out what I wanted to do.”
After trading Manhattan for Berkeley in the late 1960s — “it was the Summer of Love, it’s what everyone did” — Lynda worked at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as an administrative assistant for astrophysicist Dr. George Smoot. Smoot, who later won a Nobel Prize in Physics for work that validated the big bang theory, credits Lynda in his book “Wrinkles in Time.” And it was there, in the copy room of Building 50 at LBL, that Lynda met Stephen Kanzler. The couple married in 1979.
Lynda and Stephen spent several happy years and started a family. Weekends often involved trips to the coast and an interest in wine – at first cheap Italian reds and whites but eventually French Burgundy — was stoked by frequent visits to Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. When Stephen’s career took the family to Seattle, Lynda took on the role of homemaker with principal responsibility for raising the children as Stephen was consumed with work. But after five years, she longed to return to California. “We wanted nicer weather and for Stephen to be able to spend more time with the family,” she says.
Upon their return, they looked at properties in the East Bay and Marin, but as soon as Lynda and Stephen saw the 20-acre site west of Sebastopol that became Kanzler Estate Vineyard they knew they‘d found their new home. At the time, however, planting a vineyard was the furthest thing from their minds. “We were very naïve about country property at first,” says Lynda. Eventually, however, the vineyard was planted, and after eight years of growing Pinot Noir the couple decided to try their hand at making it. “It all happened very quickly in the beginning and we all participated. A friend designed our first label, and we did everything at home, as a family.”
As Kanzler Family Vineyards grew and became an LLC, Lynda took over the business administration and bookkeeping. And when she and Stephen’s son, Alex, decided to pursue a career in winemaking, after racking up enough experience to take on the winemaker role at Kanzler, no one could have been more thrilled than Lynda. “I’m so proud of what he’s accomplished.”
Today, Lynda embodies everything Kanzler Family Vineyard strives to be as a family-owned winery. Generous, kind and upbeat, she is the heart that keeps the winery beating. A self-described people person and a well-known face of the winery, Lynda is often the one who answers the phones and greets customers who pick up their wine in person. “I do love this industry,” she says. “It’s full of nice people who are usually in a good mood! It’s happy and festive.”