Kale Wines was founded in 2008 by winemaker and owner Kale Anderson. He was born in San Diego, grew up in Santa Rosa (Sonoma County) and went to UC Davis to study Pre Med. After some time he realized medicine wasn’t sparking a passion – eventually he joined several tasting groups on campus and was introduced to a number of Rhone varieties. He was impressed by how a diversity of terroir affected the aroma, flavor, structure and other characteristics of wines – especially with Syrah. He was then hooked by the wine bug after taking an introductory course in Viticulture & Enology.
He informed his father (a surgeon) of his desire to study wine making rather than medicine – his father was immediately supportive of his sons’ interest in changing careers. After graduating with a degree in BS in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis Kale traveled internationally trying various wines in different regions. He returned to California and took an intern position at J Winery in Sonoma County – learning how to make sparkling wine.
Other positions including working at Colgin – where he was introduced to a number of premium Napa brands that were also making their wine here. He was assistant winemaker and then ultimately winemaker at Cliff Lede before his current position as Directory of Wine making at Pahlmeyer.
In regards to combining the art and science of wine making, Kale says “I make wine with my senses, and I use science to gauge the risk. Wine always takes on a life of its own; I just help it get to where it wants to go”.
All of the wines that are part of the Kale label are entirely focused on Rhone varieties. Kale’s wines from Sonoma county are distinguished by a white label and the wines from Napa, a black label.
We’ve tasted a number of interesting and intriguing rosé’s over the past several years from mostly younger winemakers in the Valley. The 2013 Rose Napa Valley is one of them; it is Kale’s 13th vintage making a rosé. It is a blend of Grenache and Syrah. It is made in the Provencal style – with the majority whole cluster pressed and harvested merely three days after véraison occurred in the vineyard at 18 degree Brix. Interestingly enough because of its’ very early harvest date and gentle pressing – the juice was completely white when it went to fermentation (using a concrete egg). The Syrah was bled off using the French saignée method.
Aromatically this wine shows fresh aromas of muddled white strawberry and raspberry. The wine initially hits the front of the palate with a sweetness of fruit – (there is absolutely no residual sugar in this wine). The wine has good texture and richness of fruit that shows throughout the palate. All natural acidity. This is a very refreshing wine to drink.
Kale was attending a Rhone Rangers Tasting Event (the Grand Tasting is held annually in San Francisco and features wine made from Rhone varieties) when he started talking to a gentleman next sitting next to him. This man, Dick Keenan told Kale he grows some fairly obscure varieties in a non AVA part of Sonoma County. He told Kale that he has probably never heard of the region where his vineyards are located.
As it turns out, Kale knows this area very well. Dick grows wine grapes in Rincon Valley – a very much residential part of Santa Rosa in neighboring Sonoma County. Kale lived in Rincon Valley for many years; Dick’s vineyard is located just down the street from where Kale used to play baseball in the local Little League Park. And to further make this meeting a fortuitous one, Dick specializes in growing Rhone varieties.
Kale calls this wine the “HomeRun” for obvious reasons! The 2011 Kick Ranch Home Run Cuvee is 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache. It is very dark in the glass. Aromatically this wine is about the fruit – black cherry, blackberry and some underlying aromas of white pepper. The finish lasts for some time showing a pleasing intensity of fruit.
The 2012 Syrah from Alder Springs is 96% Syrah co-fermented with 4% Viognier. The grapes grow at an elevation of 2,700 feet – the highest planting in Alder Springs. The grapes were extracted by foot treading or the French term, “pigage”. This process is labor intensive – we’ve met only a few producers in the valley doing this – and always for very small productions. Aromatically the wine shows ‘juicy’ aromas – blackberry and blueberry with notes of earth – damp forest floor. The palate is rounded – both tannins and richness of flavor linger for some time.
The 2012 Broken Axle is from Stagecoach vineyards located high on Atlas Peak. The amount of rock that ‘grows’ in this vineyard is astounding. Owner Jan Krupp has removed enormous quantities of rocks over the years; this wine is named in tribute of the huge dump trucks that have been beaten up (some with broken axles) while working on this property.
The wine is dark in the glass. The bouquet immediately shows alluring aromas – it is meaty, notes of leather and toasted oak – it is dark and brooding. A gravelly component also shows. As the wine breathes hints of baking spices appear. On the palate the wine has richness and depth. The dusty tannins linger for some time. Notes of mocha linger slightly on the finish. This wine also has very good acidity.
Upcoming wines will be sourced from a vineyard in Rutherford that is growing both Mourvèdre & Grenache (today, both are extremely rare varieties in Napa).
Serious wine enthusiasts can taste with Kale at the Grill at Meadowood – tastings are private and are typically built around food – either at lunch or dinner. For more information, visit: www.kalewines.com
As of July 2015 Kale Wines offers their wines in a tasting room called The Wine Thief that features small production Napa based vintners. This tasting room is located on the corner of 1st and McKinstry Streets directly across from Gott’s Roadside Hamburgers and the Oxbow Public Market.
Wines are available for tasting by walk-in at the tasting counter, or from one of two automatic dispenser wine stations (by the taste, by the half glass or by the glass). Appointments can also be made to try the current release of their wines in one of the two private rooms on site.