Kent Humphrey: Eric Kent Wine Cellars
Kent Humphrey’s interesting story has been told in previous issues of the PinotFile (see Volume 6,
Issue 43). Just to recap here I would say that he is another of the modern group of talented Pinot Noir
winemakers who have learned by experience rather than through a formal enology education. His
initial life path was in the advertising field which he pursued over a ten year period, finally deciding to
depart due to the disdain for big corporate business tactics. Those ten years were not without a plus
side, however, Kent sampled, savored, collected, and delighted in wine. When he finally chose to
leave the advertising world, his family and friends encouraged him to seek a career in winemaking.
He considered entering University California Davis for formal training, but realized that many of the
wines he most admired were crafted by people who had no academic training in winemaking. Kent
embarked on some hands-on experience at two different winery facilities. After a few years, he was
offered some top-notch Pinot Noir fruit and the Eric Kent label was founded. He chose to make Pinot
Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah, since these were the varietals that gave him the most drinking pleasure.
He released 375 cases in the inaugural 2003 vintage. Kent has grown slowly, planning to stay small,
and stopping somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 cases annually.
Kent and his wife, Colleen, an accomplished artist, decided over dinner one day to showcase artists on
their bottle labels. The two work in harmony, she assisting him in making blending decisions, and he
helping her in choosing the individual art works that are chosen to grace the bottles of Eric Kent wines.
The works of art that grace the front label of every Eric Kent wine are unique for every vintage. The art
is from deserving, but as yet undiscovered talents. Each artist brings a unique vision to the label that
compliments the spirit behind the wines. The art work brings an added dimension to the wine by providing
a basis for discussion as the wine is imbibed.
2006 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Stiling Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 374 cases, $42. Label artist is Tony Speirs
Black cherry, plum, buttered
toast and forest floor aromas lead to a mouthful of rich, dark stone fruits that
wrap around the tongue and leave a little warmth in their wake. Velvety texture,
commendable oak integration, and a decent length to the finish. The
darker side of Pinot Noir. This wine will have fans.
Eric Kent Wine Cellars is located in Santa Rosa, California. The wines are crafted at a Santa Rosa custom
crush facility. Members of the winery’s E/K Direct Club receive 20-25% discounts. Join the Club
at www.erickentwines.com. 707-527-9700. Most of the wine is now sold to E/K Direct Club members.
This is so Kent can guarantee that all new club members can order up to a half a case of any or all of
the wines as part of their pre-release club shipments. There is limited retail distribution. Kent also
crafts two outstanding Chardonnays: a Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast bottling. The Syrahs
have been highly praised in the wine press. At the recent Pinot Days event in San Francisco, I tasted
the 2007 vintage of the Stiling Vineyard and Windsor Oaks Vineyard Pinot Noirs as well as a new vineyard
source, the Carey Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast. All three of these wines are praiseworthy.