The famous Kunde vineyards, first planted over 100 years ago, have a distinguished heritage of their own. Former owners, James Shaw and James Drummond, were pioneers in California viticulture. They were among the first to plant grapes in the Sonoma Valley and experimented with many different varieties. Drummond imported cuttings directly from Chateaux Margaux and Lafite Rothschild and produced the first varietal Cabernet Sauvignon in the world. The present Kunde vineyards still have the vines which are directly descended from those imported cuttings, along with still vigorous 114-year-old Zinfandel vines.
The 2,000 acre Kunde Ranch in the Sonoma Valley is comprised of three main vineyards - Wildwood, Kinneybrook and Bell. Within each of these ranches, there are numerous distinct vineyard blocks, each one special in its own way. Three vineyard blocks are especially noteworthy: the Shaw Zinfandel contains 28 acres of 114-year-old vines; the Drummond Cabernet Sauvignon is derived from original French cuttings from Chateaux Margaux and Lafite Rothschild; and the U C. Davis Certified block features one of the largest collections of certified grape varieties by clone in the world.
Over the years, the Kodes have selectively planted 750 of their 2,000 acres to vineyards, the remaining acreage being used to raise purebred Hereford cattle. Because of the size of the estate, the family has had the luxury of carefully choosing the best location for each individual grape variety. Factors such as sun exposure, elevation, soil type, and climate are all taken into account in choosing the perfect vineyard vacation to bring out the best of a variety's unique characteristics and flavors. The end product has been harvest after harvest of outstanding fruit, eagerly sought by neighboring wineries. Since the Kunde Estate Winery requires only 50% of the estate's total production, the winemaker has the further luxury of selecting only the finest grapes, harvested at precisely the right time. All of the Kunde wines are produced exclusively from grapes grown on their own estate.
The ranch stretches 1 1/2 miles along the Sonoma Highway and extends from the
valley floor, sloping up into the Mayacamas Mountains. Overall it has a western
exposure, prized for its long, warm summer days. Water is provided solely from
the Kunde's own lakes and wells, although many of the hillside vineyards are dry
farmed. The moisture is held, even during the dry summer months, by the volcanic
red ash soil. This nutrient rich soil type, known as the "Red Hill" series, is
rarely found and contributes greatly to the superb quality of the Kunde grapes.
Several different trellis systems are utilized in the vineyards, each one chosen
to maximize the grapes' potential. One to two months before harvest, the vineyard
workers hand pull excess leaves from the vines to expose the grapes to as much
air md sun as possible. This practice, though labor intensive, produces a richness
and intensity of flavor that cannot be duplicated. At harvest time, the grapes
are hand picked in the early morning hours, hand sorted, and then brought directly
to the winery for crush. Only by such careful, hands-on, time consuming farming
methods can great wines be made.
Kunde Estate Winery / 10155 Sonoma Highway / Kenwood CA 95452 / 707-833-5501