Kathryn and Craig Hall have been a part of the Dallas community for decades. Kathryn was a successful Dallas attorney and ran for Dallas County Judge in 1986 and mayor of Dallas in 1991. She also served as the U.S. Ambassador to Austria. Craig is a Dallas area real estate developer and investor. His two most prominent properties include Hall Arts at KPMG Plaza in the Dallas Arts District and Hall Office Park, located in Frisco. But did you know the Halls are also successful winery owners who hold a coveted 100 point score from world-renowned wine critic Robert Parker? In their latest book, A Perfect Score: The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery, Kathryn and Craig share their journey from Dallas politics and business to serving the U.S. in Austria to becoming part of the elite Napa Valley winemaking community.
What does it take to craft a 100 point wine in the 21st century? According to the couple’s account in A Perfect Score, it takes hard work, determination, support from family and friends, intelligence, integrity, and a bit of luck. The book was released on September 13, quickly becoming a New York Times best seller. Though the climax of the Hall’s story is receiving the 100 point score, that honor is not the focus of the book. Instead, the book takes the reader on a journey of family, friends, international intrigue, the business of winemaking and the inner workings of Napa Valley.
In many ways, the book reads like a love letter to their wine community. Kathryn and Craig were warmly welcomed and given guidance and support from Robert and Margrit Mondavi. They also received some significant upfront assistance from famed winemaker Koerner Rombauer, with he and his team crafting Hall Wines from 1998–2001. They express their overall love for the community and how honored they are to be a part of it. An entire chapter is dedicated to the charitability of the wine community. Although the Napa Valley Auction is an opulent event, it raises a significant amount of money for local charities, making an important contribution to the overall welfare of the community.
Napa Valley’s population has grown from 79,000 in 1970 to over 137,000 in 2015; such a dramatic rise in population brings pitfalls and challenges. The book provides insight as to how buying, renovating and owning two wineries comes with its own set of obstacles. As the Plano community knows, the Halls have a passion for art. They proudly display the largest private collection of contemporary sculptures for public view in the Texas Sculpture Garden at the Hall Park in Frisco. The sculptures were created by artists from all over the world, including 40 of Texas’ most prominent artists. Their passion for art intertwines with their passion for wine; therefore, they desire to display art from their private collection throughout their wineries as well. However, love of art is subjective and not all in the wine community appreciate the couple’s artistic expressions. The Halls learned, whether building a new winery in Rutherford or renovating a historic winery that dates back pre-prohibition to the beginning roots of St. Helena, acquiring building permits as well as the approval of neighbors can be daunting! One sentiment prevailed throughout their journey, “not in my backyard.” Yet, through trial and error and a lot of patience, over time, they succeeded in sharing their art and constructing their wineries to meet their personal style. Today, Kathryn and Craig have two stunning wineries filled with art.
In addition to sharing their challenges and rewards, A Perfect Score provides useful information to the wine consumer, explaining the stages and processes that go into making wine. It is written in a way that is technical enough to honor the process but easy enough to be digestible. Additionally, the book provides an honest account of how the Halls struggled with issues like distribution and the recession that began in 2007 and continued to impact the wine industry through 2010. They were able to weather those storms with the help of good friends with even better connections.
On October 13, 2013, all their hard work, dedication, tenacity and prayers were answered with a letter from world-renowned wine critic, Robert Parker. In receiving Parker’s 100 point score on their 2010 Hall Exzellenz Cabernet Sauvignon, the Halls finally felt a taste of their success. Since that time, the recognition has allowed them to expand their focus on Walt Wines, their high quality Pinot Noir brand. named after Kathryn’s father.
The Halls absolutely love wine and its community aspect. A Perfect Score provides a great look into the lives of a husband and wife team who are passionate about each other, friends and family, and their community, with wine and art being the thread that weaves them all together. You can experience their art collection firsthand at the Texas Sculpture Garden at Hall Office Park in Frisco as well as their wineries in St. Helena and Rutherford. Furthermore, Kathryn and Craig are proud sponsors of the new Frisco Arts Walk that was held in the Hall Park Texas Sculpture Garden on October 8. If you missed the 1st annual Frisco Arts Walk, be sure to mark your calendars for 2017!
Originally published in Plano Profile‘s December 2016 issue.