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Kenneth Volk Vineyards - Cellar Door Club
 Harvest Report
 Ten-year Milestone
 Featured Wines
 Upcoming Events

{ Welcome }

Our November 2014 Cellar Door Club shipment features several wonderful wines including two 2009 vintage Bordeaux varieties—a Merlot and Cabernet Franc—as well as a classic Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County and a refreshing Iberian white, our Albariño.

November 2013 Shipment

Wine Country Heatwave and Earthquakes

The 2014 growing season has been a warm one but the heatwave during the first days of October was unprecedented with the winery having its warmest day in three years—a high of 103˚ on October 4. This high temperature record only lasted a week with off-shore Santa Ana winds contributing to an even higher temp of 107˚ at the winery on October 12. The warm temperatures will likely accelerate the remaining maturity of late-season varieties, bringing an end to the vintage. 2014 is on track globally to being the warmest year ever. Check out the National Climatic Data Center’s summary of global temperatures and precipitation for 2014

However difficult 2014 has been on the Central Coast, it has been a relative cakewalk compared to the trauma and damage our vintner friends have faced in the southern Napa Valley following the earthquake of August 24. The quake came at a time when many wineries were conducting pre-harvest bottling or had already started the harvest. Many Napa vintners were without power, water, and refrigeration for a week following the earthquake, making things more than just challenging for winemaking.

Ken is all too familiar with the power and devastation an earthquake can cause in a wine cellar, having survived the San Simeon earthquake of December 23, 2003, at Wild Horse Winery. Ken remembers: “We had 4000 barrels come down from that earthquake and remarkably no one was killed at the facility. We were involved in year-end inventory and I had a skeleton crew working in the cellar. I was in my second-floor office transcribing work orders when the earthquake started off as a minor tremor, which we often had in Paso Robles, but the tremor quickly turned into powerful shaking. I was out of my office door and down the stairs in a blink.”

The motion of the quake was from north to south and, for the first time, Ken actually saw concrete rippling like a wave on the ocean. The epicenter of the quake was along San Simeon Fault, to the west of the winery. However, it also resonated along the Rinconada Fault, which is only a half-mile west of Wild Horse Vineyards. No pun intended, but earthquakes can shake your fortitude and be extremely traumatic.

New Wines and Good Energy at KVV

The 2014 harvest came early due to the extremely warm growing season, the small crop and the stress of the three-year drought. Our crush started with Tempranillo from the Bella Colina Vineyard, followed by the Enz Vineyard Pinot Noir and Verdelho of Pomar Junction Vineyard which segued into the onslaught of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir fruit. The 2014 vintage is a ripe one with full physiological ripeness on most varieties. In general, it has been a high-sugar, low-acid vintage with well-developed tannin structure and mature fruit flavors.

Ken feels some of the early “stand out” wines with great potential are the Petite Sirah from French Camp Vineyards, the Caleri Vineyard Negrette, and the Bien Nacido Pinot Noir. Not letting his stroke of January hold him back from his passion for heirloom grape varieties, in 2014 Ken added to his wine repertoire: Barbera from the Caleri Vineyard, Petite Verdot from Ceri’s Vineyard, the Spanish red grape Graziano from the John Smith Vineyard, and Primativo from French Camp Vineyard.

The core winery staff this year includes our Associate Winemaker Cynthia Nixon, Enologist Kenda Kern, and Cellar Master Jaime Maldonado. They have done a great job in recruiting our 2014 harvest crew. We have often had Cal Poly Enology and Viticulture students work the harvest, too. In 2014, our harvest crew includes wine and viticulture students from Allan Hancock College as well as international winemakers from Italy, Samuel Telch and Spain, Alberto Diaz de Cozar. There has been a great deal of collective knowledge and positive energy in the cellar, vineyard, and laboratory during this vintage at KVV.

Special Discount for KVV Fans

We appreciate your membership and, as a token of our appreciation, would like to offer our members a special 30% discount* when you increase the November shipment to a case or more! For a limited time, Cellar Door Club members can take advantage of 30% off their order when purchasing 12 bottles or more. As always, Cellar Door Club members shipping a case within California receive free shipping and members shipping a case out of state receive a $12 shipping credit. (*not valid on already discounted wines)

Also, your shipment makes a great gift for yourself and others! If you’re traveling somewhere for the holidays, we’re happy to send your wines to your destination or we can gift your shipment to a recipient of your choice. Just call or email us to make those arrangements: contact Megan Maretti at (805)938-7896 or via email at

Featured Wines

Brief tasting notes and food pairings follow. If you want to know more about these wines, read on and enjoy. To customize your shipment, please log in to select the combination of wines you wish to receive. If you wish to customize your Cellar Door Club shipment, we encourage you to do so as soon as you read this email.

2009 Merlot — Paso Robles

Full Retail $28.00 / Club $22.40

This dark Merlot has heady aromas of cassis, blackberry, and ripe red plums followed by Paso Robles dust and anise. On the palate, the wine is full volume and rich with flavors of black and blue fruit which are supported by moderate tannins and good acidity.

Primal Porterhouse


2009 Cabernet Franc — Paso Robles

Full Retail $48.00 / Club $38.40

After more than two years of bottle aging this wine has wonderful aromas of fresh cherry and dried red fruits with nuances of cigar box and aged Ristras. On the palate, this wine is surprisingly lean for its degree of ripeness with flavors of berry and cocoa and firm tannins. This wine can be enjoyed with grilled and smoked foods or rich tomato pasta dishes.

Broiled Lamb Kabobs


2013 Albariño — Riverbench Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley

Full Retail $28.00 / Club $22.40

Our 2013 Albariño has faint aromas of citrus flowers and ripe fruit aromas of white peach and nectarine. On the palate the wine is crisp and refreshing with flavors of apricot, green apple, and peach.

Prawns in Clove


2011 Pinot Noir — Santa Barbara County

Full Retail $30.00 / Club $24.00

Aromas of dried rose bud and ripe berry lead to spicy notes of anise and cinnamon. On the palate, the wine is rich and supple. The cool growing season produced grapes high in malic acid and the finished wine has a rich, creamy mouthfeel. This wine has flavors of strawberry and raspberry with a distinct taste of cola and sarsaparilla.

Braised Chicken with Leeks and Porcini


Ken’s Picks Subtotal
(Before tax, shipping where applicable):

$107.20 for
Cellar Door Club members



Remember, as a Cellar Door Club member you have the opportunity to choose any wines from the Kenneth Volk Vineyards portfolio for your wine club selection. If the above options don’t tickle your fancy, you may select instead from other wines in the KVV portfolio, a perk of membership in our club. Please make your selection now: visit our preference page. Please update any changes to your billing and delivery address information.


Shipping Preferences

Whether you have your wines shipped or pick them up at our Santa Maria winery or Paso Robles tasting room, all preference changes must be completed by October 29th. Please note this compressed timeline and act accordingly. Estimated shipping date: November 10, 2014.

In every shipment, “Ken’s picks” demonstrate his decades of winemaking experience. If you know you always want to receive our featured wines—Ken’s picks—simply do nothing: you will receive Ken’s picks as the default shipment. If you prefer to select your own custom shipment from the KVV portfolio, you are more than welcome to do so. Simply log into your account by October 29th to let us know what you want.

Please help us keep costs down by recording your preference before the deadline.

Customize Your Wine Preference

If you are having trouble changing your preferences, contact Megan Maretti at (805) 938-7896 or via email at

Special Requests

Contact Megan Maretti at (805) 938-7896 or via email at if you have a special request or prefer to have this shipment sent to you.

Shipments that are not picked up within 60 days will be sent to the address on file and billed accordingly. Please help us by picking up your wine in a timely manner or by making arrangements to have your wines sent to you.

Ten Year Milestones

December 4th will be the 10th anniversary of Ken’s purchase of the original Byron Winery from Robert Mondavi, now known as Kenneth Volk Vineyards. The Kenneth Volk Vineyards brand started in 2003 with the first two years of production taking place at other facilities. The 2005 vintage was the first crush to actually take place at Kenneth Volk Vineyards on Tepusquet Road.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the release of the film Sideways, a film adaptation of Rex Pickett’s novel of the same name. The film is based in Santa Barbara wine country and much of the filming shot was on location. The story tells of a seven-day road trip to Santa Barbara wine country by the depressed aspiring writer and wine connoisseur Miles Raymond played by Paul Giamatti and Jack Cole played by Thomas Hayden Church. The trip was to be a pre-getaway for Jack before his impending marriage. Jack seems more Randy than Austin Powers and he allows his little head do all the thinking, which generates the conflict in the movie. Additional cast of the movie include Virginia Madsen as Maya and Sandra Oh as Stephanie.

The film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star rating saying, “What happens during the seven days adds up to the best human comedy of the year—comedy because it is funny, and human because it is surprisingly moving.”

During much of the film, cork dork Miles repeatedly puts down wine made from the Merlot grape and sings the praises of Pinot Noir.

The impact of this movie on the wine buying public was profound, so profound that the Sonoma State University’s Department of Economics conducted an extensive statistical study of the sales of Merlot and Pinot Noir in America before and after the movie Sideways. “Following Sideways, Pinot Noir sales flourished while Merlot sales tanked—an experience I have lived through first hand” says Ken Volk.

Review the study: “The Sideways Effect: A Test for Changes in the Demand for Merlot and Pinot Noir Wines”

One of the ironies of the movie Sideways is that Miles puts down Merlot at every opportunity but at the same time, holds Bordeaux wines that are made with Merlot in high esteem. In the novel, Miles holds his bottle of 1961 Petrus as his most precious wine bottle. Château Petrus is in Bordeaux and located in the Pomerol (AOC). However, Petrus is produced almost entirely from Merlot with small amounts of Cabernet Franc. Petrus frequently demands the highest prices paid for wines at auction.

The movie producers of Sideways were unable to obtain the rights to use Petrus in the movie and instead had a depressed Miles gulping a bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc out of a Styrofoam cup at a fast food restaurant toward the end of the movie following his ex-wife’s remarriage.

Château Cheval Blanc is located in the Saint Emillion (AOC). Cheval Blanc is typically a blend dominated by Cabernet Franc and Merlot with fractions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.

Ken has had the chance to meet the author of Sideways, Rex Pickett, several times. Ken gave him an earful about how this movie had killed Merlot, to which Rex replied that he liked Merlot. Later, he presented Ken with a bottle of Kenneth Volk Merlot embellished with his own artwork.

Bordeaux, the City and its Wines: A Brief Overview

Bordeaux is a port city located on the Garonne River in south-western France, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. Bordeaux was an important distribution hub for France in past centuries. The city and its surrounding suburbs collectively make up the sixth largest urban population in France. Bordeaux is also the largest wine growing region in France with over 53 AOC appellations falling under the umbrella appellation of “Bordeaux.”

Viticulture was introduced to the area by Romans in the first century. Dry whites, dry reds, and late harvest white wines are produced in the region. Wine quality ranges from below average table wines to some of the finest wines in the world.

The principal red grapes grown in the region (in descending order of acreage): Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Carménère and Gros Verdot (Cabernet Pfeffer). Depending on AOC and soil types of the property, different percentages of these varieties have been planted to produce blended red wines.

Courtesy of David Savory for

Bordeaux Varieties at Kenneth Volk Vineyards

Ken has been producing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from both Paso Robles and the Santa Maria Valley commercially since 1983 and as a hobby winemaker since 1978. Ken’s first varietal Merlot bottling was in 1984 with fruit sourced from our neighboring Rancho Sisquoc Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. This wine went on to be recognized as the Best Merlot in America by International Wine magazine, coming out ahead of many of the Napa and Sonoma heavyweight wines. This was great recognition for the young winery and this young appellation. In 2014, some Rancho Sisquoc Merlot was brought into the winery for a thirty-year retrospective bottling.

When Ken started up Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Bordeaux varieties were intended to make up a big part of KVV’s production. However, the demise of Merlot in the broad market led to decreasing KVV production of the variety for national distribution.

Ken still loves Merlot. In many vintages, he believes it produces the finest wines of Paso Robles. The variety ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. It can be a standout on its own or provide a plummy base note to Bordeaux blends and helps fill out the mid-palate in cooler vintages.

Upcoming Events

October 26, 2014 — 3rd Annual Harvesting Hope Festival

12pm-4pm at The Monarch Club/Trilogy Monarch Dunes, Nipomo, California
Join us to wine taste while you survey a variety of arts and craft booths featuring local artisan wares to help you start your holiday shopping early! Come enjoy delicious hearty soups in handcrafted bowls with bread for a $25 donation. There will be a wine tasting opportunity at this event for an additional $10 donation. All proceeds benefit the 5Cities Homeless Coalition. Live music performed by Pacific Swing and harpist Toni Destroy as well as a silent auction and raffle tickets. For more information and tickets, please visit

November 10, 2014 — Kenneth Volk Vineyards Winemaker Dinner, Denver, Colorado

Join Ken for a three course dinner specially paired by Executive Chef Carrie Shores! The dinner will include four wines from Ken’s very small-production vineyards from San Benito to Santa Barbara County. Space is limited. Please call Table 6 Restaurant for reservations at (303) 831-8880. $65.00 per person (excluding tax & gratuity)

November 15, 2014 — Pinot Days Los Angeles

2pm-5pm Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California
Saturday's Grand Tasting will showcase 80 phenomenal producers of Pinot Noir. Consumers will be able to sample over 100 Pinots from every important domestic Pinot Noir region, from the Russian River Valley to the Santa Lucia Highlands, from Oregon to Carneros, and from the Anderson Valley and the Sonoma Coast to the Sta. Rita Hills. Come to taste and talk with the gifted winemakers who created these beautiful wines. For tickets and more information, please visit

January 21, 2015 — Stars of Santa Barbara

2pm-5pm Peninsula Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills, California
Dedicated to keeping the public up-to-date on the great wines coming out of Santa Barbara, this annual tasting event features the namesakes, owners, and winemakers pouring some of the best wine made in California. Stop by the Kenneth Volk Vineyards booth and say “hi”! For information and tickets please visit

January 25, 2015 — 34th Annual LMU Wine Classic

2pm-5pm Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
Join us for an unforgettable wine tasting event featuring more than 150 wines. Meet with owners and vintners from 45 prestigious boutique California wineries. Enter the silent auction of specialty wines and products. The Wine Classic benefits LMU students with scholarships and an opportunity for these students to realize their dream of a college education. For information and tickets, please visit

March 6-7, 2015 — 15th Annual World of Pinot Noir

2:30pm–6pm at The Bacara Resort, Goleta, California
Get ready for the World of Pinot’s Crystal Anniversary: fifteen years! The World of Pinot Noir brings together Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world along with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend celebration and educational experience at the edge of California’s Central Coast. This will be the second year the event is held at the luxurious Bacara Resort. We’ll be pouring on Saturday March 7 so come say hello and taste KVV’s eclectic Pinot Noirs! For tickets and information, please visit