In six years of blogging, no winery owner ever opened a conversation saying that they walked away from revenue because they made the decision to refocus on quality. In 2009, Jeff Kunde, fourth generation winegrower for Kunde, told me the family did exactly that. It started a vineyard redevelopment program where it replanted varietals and rootstocks best fit for the vineyard blocks. It also revamped and modernized its vineyard practices. Kunde became a sustainable vineyard. It refreshed its brand. And, in 2011, it brought in a well-known winemaker Zach Long to revolutionize the program.
Kunde Winery is considered the oldest piece of property in Sonoma County and for more than 100 years, five generations of the Kunde family have been making wine on the 1,850-acre estate. Zach told me he joined because of the diversity of the 700 acres of vineyards and the ability to work seven microclimates. “The family had already started the process to modernize the vineyards. I focused on the latest vineyard management techniques like canopy management, lower yields and letting the fruit hang longer to enhance the wines.”
Jeff and Zach told me that the way that they are farming limits the control and allows the wines to reflect a sense of place. The result is 100 percent estate produced wines that are driven by the terroir friendly winemaking approach. “All wines showcase the best varietals we are able to grow with a diversity of flavor,” said Zach.
It had been a long time since I had tried the wines and if you haven’t tried them lately, I urge you to take another look. Here was our line-up:
2014 Kunde Magnolia Lane Sauvignon Blanc – this was zingy with grapefruit, tropical fruit, lemon peel and was the perfect expression of a good sauvignon blanc.
2014 Kunde Wildwood Vineyard Chardonnay – Described by Zach as “a thinker,” this had a nice structure with notes of pear, apple, tropical fruit, butter and oak.
2013 Kunde Cabernet Sauvignon – this elegant cabernet had notes of raspberry, chocolate, anise, spice, white pepper, black currant and cinnamon.
2012 Kunde Dunfillan Cuvee – this was named after the original winery built on the Kunde Estate in the late 1800’s It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with blackberry, beef jerky and spices. Fun fact is that James Drummond built this winery and is the first guy in America to put the Cabernet Sauvignon grape on his label.
Kunde has a storied history of five generations and a great story to tell about continuing to strive for excellence. It has made the quality improvements in the wines, the winemaking process and the vineyards. It is clear that Jeff and Zach have a passion for producing the best wine possible and making them affordable for consumers. As the well known ad slogan goes, “it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile.” Taste the new Kunde wines for yourself.