|Link to this site|
Kenneth Volk has been a long-time proponent of Pinot Noir sourced from the Santa Maria Valley. He started making wine at home in 1977. His first wine was a Gamay Beaujolais clone of Pinot Noir, done in a trash can. He punched it down with a Louisville Slugger wooden baseball bat. As a fruit science major at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo he became interested in winemaking He followed up his early interest with multiple training classes in enology from University California Davis. Working with Dick Graff at Edna Valley for the crush in 1980, he learned to be meticulous. He started Wild Horse Vineyards in 1981, eventually planting 33 acres in Templeton in San Luis Obispo County. He built his winery in 1983 and that same year crafted a Pinot Noir from Sierra Madre Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley that brought early notoriety and success to Wild Horse. He produced a wide range of other varietals and eventually reached an annual production of 150,000 cases. Some of his most memorable Pinot Noirs were released under the Cheval Sauvage label.
In 2003, Volk sold Wild Horse Winery for $48 million to Peak Wines International and the winery was subsequently sold to Constellation Brands. Volk purchased the Byron Winery building on Tepusquet Road in Santa Maria (owned by Jackson Family Estates; Byron moved to another facility) in 2004. He named the winery Kenneth Volk Vineyards and released his first Pinot Noir in 2006. Volk spent $2 million for the property and invested another $2million in renovating the building and installing new winemaking equipment.
He produces a Santa Maria Valley appellation Pinot Noir sourced from the Sierra Madre Vineyard that Bill Hampton manages and Volk leases. He also sources Pinot Noir from Bien Nacido Vineyard, Garey Vineyard and Solomon Hills Vineyard, all in the Santa Maria Valley. Along with the Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir, he produces a Santa Maria Cuvee Pinot Noir ($24) and a Garey Vineyard Pinot Noir ($48) vineyard designate.
A second label, Aqua Pumpkin Pinot Noir, is blended from Volk's vineyard sources, is intended for early consumption, and is value-priced (about $16).
Kenneth Volk has mentored many winemakers including Neil Collins of Tablas Creek, Terry Culton of Adelaida Cellars, Jon Priest of Etude, Larry Gomez of Lockwood Vineyards, Scott Welcher of Opolo Vineyards, and Karl Wicka of Turley Wine Cellars and The Missing Leg. He is an active supporter of the viticulture, enology and wine marketing programs being developed at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Volk has akeen interest in alternative or "heirloom" grape cultivars such as Malvasia and Cabernet Pferrer. He describes himself as an "innovating traditionalist" who likes to create multifaceted wines.
Kenneth Volk Vineyards is located at 5239 Tepusquet Road, Santa Maria. The tasting room is open from 10:30-4:30 Friday through Sunday. The phone is 805-938-7896. The wines are sold on the website. Volk produces a number of other varietals, including a superb Chardonnay. Production is around 17,000 cases.
2007 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Garey Ranch Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc.. Primarily clone 777. · The nose is quite savory with scents of soy and oak. Pleasing core of berry and plum fruit encased in soft, dry tannins. Good. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »
2007 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Julia’s Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc.. · Shy cherry and berry aromas and flavors. Smooth and harmonious with supporting touch of oak and earthiness. The tannins are reigned in and the wine is quite drinkable now. Good. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »
2007 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc.. Clones 2A and Pommard. · Expressive and charming nose of fresh cherries and strawberries. Fruit flavors tend toward the redder spectrum. Lighter-styled and enticing. Very good. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »
2007 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc.. · Lovely scents of red fruits, roses and spice box which carry over in the flavor profile. Loaded with charm, the fruit is vivid and focused. The finish has remarkable persistence. Very good. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »
2007 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc.. Clones 2A, Pommard, 23. · Deeply colored. Plenty of hi-tone blackberry and black cherry fruit on the nose. A muscular wine with thick dark fruit, almost inky in style. Plenty of tannin to shed. For fans of big-boned Pinot. Good. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »
2007 Kenneth Volk Vineyards The Shivering Rooster San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir
15.8% alc.. Sourced from the Gallo Ranch located on Highway 1, the coldest site in San Luis Opispo County and very late to ripen. Several clones including 2A, 667 and 777. · Aromas of dark purple fruit and oak toast. Intense and Syrah-like blackberry and black raspberry essence with fine-grain tannins. The alcohol is well integrated. A showy, sappy wine that will find fans despite the heat it packs. Decent. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »
2006 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Garey Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Barrel sample. This vineyard appears to be a gem. I recently enjoyed the Bianchi Pinot Noir from this same vineyard. · Showing quite nicely at this early stage with intense blackberry and black cherry fruit augmented with deft use of oak. Reviewed March 23, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Kenneth Volk Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Unreleased. Will be $36. · A very sensual nose similar to the 2004 vintage with crushed black cherry, violets and a touch of spice. The flavors echo the aromatics. Elegance to spare with a silk and satin texture. My favorite and in one word, excellent. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Kenneth Volk Garey Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
$48. This vineyard was planted in the late 1990s to be the premier vineyard of the Robert Mondavi Corporation’s Santa Maria Valley holdings. It is named for the tiny township of Garey on Foxen Canyon Road adjacent to the vineyard. Sourced from a vineyard block planted to clone 777. · This wine has been big and intense in the past, but this vintage is toned down. Discreet spicy cherry nose with a serenade of juicy and ever-expanding red and blue fruit flavors. This one has the full arsenal. Check for future release date. Reviewed July 7, 2008 ARTICLE »
2005 Kenneth Volk Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
2005 was a cool vintage, picked late. · Pretty spice cherry scents leading to a clean black cherry and berry core. Medium bodied, silky, with a lively acid backbone. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
2004 Kenneth Volk Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
2004 was a warm, ripe vintage. · Lovely aromatics featuring rich black cherry, violets and a little good barnyard. Ripe dark Pinot flavors, veering a tad toward raisin notes. Reviewed March 3, 2008 ARTICLE »
2004 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Sierra Madre Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
340 cases, $36. Kenneth Volk was the long-time owner and winemaker at Wild Horse Cellars which is now under the Beam Estates umbrella. He has reinvented himself with this new label. Kenneth is a legend in Santa Barbara County, having made his first Pinot Noir under the Wild Horse label in 1983. Visit his nicely composed website at www.volkwines.com for more information. His wines may be purchased on the website. · The nose offers plenty of crushed cherries, but also some interesting barnyard notes. Flavors of dried cherries and pomegranates lead to a crisp and lengthy finish. The tannins are supple and the whole package is nicely balanced. This Pinot really exploded with a little rare beef. Reviewed January 22, 2007 ARTICLE »