Kenneth Volk Wines Santa Maria Valley
Ken Volk’s winemaking career took off with the creation of the WILD HORSE Winery and Vineyards in 1981 and he remained at the helm for 22 years before selling out to Peak Wines International, a division of Jim Beam Brands Worldwide. Not one for sitting around doing nothing, he purchased the “original” Byron Winery facility from the Robert MONDAVI Corporation in 2004 and renamed the property Kenneth Volk Vineyards. The first wines released under this label were in 2006. Although he primarily focuses on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, he produces a long list of other varietals and blends and his total output comes to some 20,000 to 22,000 cases in propitious years. Fruit from estate-owned vineyards accounts for just over a third of the total and the rest is sourced from superior vineyard growers with whom he works, even to the extent of participating directly in the management of the fruit. Ken spent a lot of time and money upgrading the winery in 2005 endowing it with some state of the art equipment and improved infrastructure. The entry level Chardonnay is the unoaked “Jaybird”, with aromatic upfront citrussy flavours, good texture and reasonable length, whilst the Santa Maria Cuvée, with fruit coming from the Kenneth Volk Estate, Bien Nacido and Sierra Madre vineyards is smooth and buttery, with some apparent new oak. The vineyarddesignated Chardonnays are a cut above, with the Sierra Madre showing a little more restraint and less exuberance than the blend. There is one blended Pinot Noir and three single vineyard ones and again, there is an obvious step up in quality in the latter ones. The Santa Maria Cuvée has good varietal flavour, nicely restrained with typical Californian sweet fruit – not a lot of weight but complex in the mouth. The Sierra Madre Cuvée, however, has more depth and concentrated fruit with soft tannins and good persistence. Garey Vineyard Pinot Noir is dark and strong, tightly knit, which suggests that it could well do with long cellaring, although the soft tannins should make it approachable in 2 or 3 years. The Bien Nacido shows a great deal of elegance – a step up in finesse with very luscious and seductive fruit. This can be broached now but will repay keeping as well. Apart from his Bordeaux varietals (not yet tasted) Ken is very keen on what he calls “Heirloom Wines” – wines that are not mainstream varietals (at least in the United States) and need a harder sell to get them readily appreciated. He has taken up the challenge which he says he finds “fun and educational”. A Malvasia Blanca from Monterey which is 25% barrel fermented (the rest in stainless steel) has pear and lychee overtones, nice aromacy and reasonable length. On the red side, the Enz Vineyard Lime Kiln Valley Zinfandel, including fruit from vines planted in 1895, displays sweet, brambly fruit, pretty and spicy and not clumsy by any means with a great deal of elegance considering its 15% plus abv. The Mourvèdre, from the same vineyard, planted in 1922, is deep and unctuous, very full with fine complexity. (NB)
To find out more about Kenneth Volk and their wines, and to see how we reviewed and rated their wines you can check out the Regional Guide here..
Or indeed you can check out the Main Guide that is 2250 pages, reviews over 4000 vineyards and over 30,000 wines here …