Recently I had the opportunity to taste through samples of Kenwood Vineyards’ latest releases. Kenwood puts out 500,000 cases annually. As you may know, I don’t tend to steer towards larger producers, but I have started making some exceptions. For one, I like to see and taste what’s being made out there on a larger scale. I also continue to see some of the larger producers having a hand in meaningful sustainability practices. It is fascinating to see how these larger producers can scale sustainability that we usually associate with smaller producers. This is not a “who is better” argument. It is simply a great comparison what can be done on different levels and with different scales.
Kenwood Vineyards recently partnered with Sonoma County Trails Council on a preservation endeavor. They pledged $100,000 to the Trails Council as well as staff volunteer time with the end goal to help people get outdoors and reconnect in the wild. Wine, as a consumer product, does employ a nice little carbon footprint, so it's good to see large producers helping to offset their piece of the puzzle. Kenwood is also “talking the talk” when it comes to their grape growing and winemaking. They employ sustainable practices including reducing waste, recycling, and lower energy consumption.
Here are some members of the Kenwood team doing trail maintenance and other fire-related recovery efforts.
Sonoma is at the heart of every wine produced at Kenwood Vineyards. Some wines are single vineyard and some wines include fruit sourced from the entire country, but you can always know that the Kenwood wine you are drinking is truly representative of Sonoma County. Winemaker Pat Henderson says that his “focus as a winemaker is to make wines that showcase the vibrant fruit flavors and distinctive terroirs that make Sonoma famous.”
2016 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Chardonnay $18
Grapes are sourced throughout Sonoma County for this wine. This wine has seen oak and went through full malo (twice actually!), so we see aromas/flavors of dairy/yogurt, vanilla, and toast. There is also a strong citrus (lemon curd) note along with green apples on the palate. I detect an ever so slight residual sugar, but I cannot confirm as RS was not listed on the spec sheet.
2015 Kenwood Vineyards Six Ridges Pinot Noir $30
The grapes from this wine come from the Russian River Valley. A warm spell before harvest in September gives the fruit on this wine an intense, rich character. This is a nice and ripe Pinot Noir, if that is your style. Lots of ripe red fruit (cherry, plum, strawberry) along with baking spices (cinnamon and allspire).
2014 Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon $35
This wines name comes from the fact that Kenwood has been exclusively crafting wine from single vineyards on novelist Jack London’s historic ranch. This was a very dry year as we were in the 3rd year of California’s historic drought, which increased the intensity of fruit. On this wine we see a combination of red and black fruit (including cherries and blackberries). On the palate I get the same fruit, plus black pepper, and tobacco.