There is always so many great opportunities to experience living in the beautiful Sonoma County Wine country and working in the wine industry here just adds to the flavor of what is available. Frequently, I find myself invited to a specific winery, to meet a winemaker or to go and taste new release wines at an event. Back on July 23rd of this year I was invited to something new to me and an event I felt very privileged to be a part of, a tasting of wine made from grapes sourced from the Kick Ranch Vineyard. This is a vineyard property located on the Western flank of Spring Mountain in the Rincon Valley just outside of Santa Rosa.
This was an event sponsored by a vineyard owner/grower and his wife, Dick Keenan and Kathy McNamara, but it featured a unique opportunity. Dick and Kathy had invited winemakers that bought their Kick Ranch grapes to come and pour their wines for a group of 24 wine writers, giving the winemakers the opportunity to show their wines (from both Kick Ranch and other locations), but also to show the amazing interpretations of what Kick Ranch fruit offers. When I received the invitation I was instantly ready to attend, as I had enjoyed Sauvignon Blanc from a couple different producers in the past and loved the wine. Additionally, I had heard high praise for the grape quality Dick and Kathy’s vineyards provided and wanted to see how the other varietals from their property tasted. I had high expectations………………….and honestly, I was impressed even more than I thought.
The wines being poured and the winemakers sharing them were a list of small, limited production labels that emphasized quality wine and the expression of the unique vineyard locations they sourced their fruit from. The list of participants was stellar:
Behrens Family Winery
VGS Chateau Potelle
Unfortunately, I could only taste so many, though I tried to get to as many as I could. I found that between the quality of all of the wines that I did sample and the great personalities of the people that made the wine, there were only so many minutes in the evening and some wines I missed out on. I think that it was hard to say I had favorites, but I do want to say that I loved every one of the Sauvignon Blancs that were shared with me. Very representative of the varietal, but each showed not only the vineyard, but the nuances that come from the individual making the wine. Other varietals that are grown on the Kick Ranch and that were available this evening were Viognier, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Musque and Syrah. I will say that the Syrahs were amazing, especially the 2006 Paul Hobbs Syrah which was absolutely delicious.
The individuals behind the wines were equally as amazing, having the opportunity to chat extensively with Jean-Noel Fourmeaux Du Sartel (VGS, Chateau Potelle), Ari Heavner (Idle Cellars), Fred Scherrer (Scherrer Winery) and Dean Bordigioni (Annadel). The passion they each exhibited, the knowledge and the sense of levity and humor that was consistent through each of them, and for that, everyone that attended, writers and producers alike. There were a number of other winemakers I have not listed, but if you follow up with some of the listed wineries you will see that it was a great collection of talent on this evening. I did forget to mention that our hosts not only arranged this tasting, but also provided excellent food to go with the evening’s enjoyment. A lovely presentation of cheeses, bread and more to accompany the wine, then later, grilled to order hamburgers and salmon salad to dine upon made the whole experience stellar and worthy of remembering!
Now I know that sometimes it is difficult for many of us to remember the varietals or the wineries we prefer, much less the vineyards that provide the grapes. But, if you really are into wines and develop favorites, take notes and hold onto the names, the grapes and who grows them. If for no other reason that some wineries don’t always get the same grapes or go out of business, then you are left pining for a favorite you can no longer find. In this case I am recommending you check you wine shops and find wines that come from Kick Ranch fruit. You are now asking, “How the hell do I do that”? I’ll help you……….just go to www.kickranch.com and check out the section on their website about their winery partners while you learn about Dick, Kathy and the Kick Ranch story. I don’t think you will regret it, I didn’t!
Up here in Sonoma County, harvest is getting ready to kick into full steam. Grapes have been trickling in, but are now begging to fill the roads in the back of flatbeds and semis. The 2015 harvest is looking to be an interesting one, with us working through the fourth year of the drought. The past three vintages have all been special, so only time will tell what this one will become. I hope that all of you are finding the wines you love, trying out new producers and varietals, plus pairing great meals along with them. As always enjoy the fruit of the vine, drink well and remember, “Life is too short to drink Bad Wine!”