Catherine Blagden was drawn to wine at an early age and did what most do to get started. She graduated from UC Davis, took jobs at wineries, made small batches of wine to get her feet wet, etc.
Then she dropped the bomb. Upon graduation in 2003, she received a scholarship to work the harvest at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy. That's like casually mentioning you grew up hitting baseballs with Babe Ruth, or learned how to build motorcycles from Bill Harley and Art Davidson, or had Albert Einstein help you with your physics homework.
That's not an exaggeration. Dujac is not just one of the greatest producers in Burgundy, but in the entire world. The domain is relatively new by French standards, founded in 1967. But, they own 16 acres of Pinot Noir on the most heralded and expensive plots on earth. If you're going to learn how to make Pinot Noir, this would be the place.
Catherine may have thought she was "lucky" to get that scholarship, but that certainly wasn't the case. Obviously, she learned well as her Pinot Noirs are benchmarks for California. She picks her grapes from the upper corners of Sonoma, where the air is clean, the sun high, and the soil is rock. In other words, perfect. The result is not just a wine, but also an experience. That experience is the complete and thorough integration of wild cherry, pomegranate, and mint to enhance an appropriately seasoned rack of lamb with an oregano glaze.