Climate Change and Wine - Napa Valley - Kenefick Ranch
Live with Chris Kenefick, Kenefick Ranch, Napa Valley
Today I am live with 2nd generation owner and proprietor, Chris Kenefick, of Kenefick Ranch Vineyard and Winery, located in Calistoga, Napa Valley, California. In the interview we are discussing the Kenefick Ranch approach to dealing with climate change, their wine portfolio, and their sustainability initiatives. Chris talks about how they strive to be great stewards of their land while creating Napa Valley world-class wines that “start in the vineyard.”
You may download the full transcription of the interview below. Or click on the YouTube link above and view the full 10-minute interview. I have reviewed several of their wines below with links to shopping for them. I found they were very well made and finely balanced. The Cabernet Franc was a hit with my sommelier friends.
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A Few Quotations from the Interview
Question: Climate change has greatly affected Napa Valley the last five years, particularly for this year's harvest (2022). What were your main challenges? What have you been doing differently to adapt? —Tricia Conover
“This year, 2022, what looked like was going to be an amazing harvest all through the summer, all of a sudden, we were hit with about six days of 105 to 118 degree weather out here. With that kind of heat spike, we're hoping that that's not a continued trend year after year…. we experimented a little bit more with some shade cloth over the grapes to try to protect them from that extreme afternoon sun.” – Chris Kenefick
Question: Can you describe how Kenefick Ranch has implemented sustainability initiatives? –Tricia Conover
“Our property is both “Napa Green” and “Fish-Friendly Farming Certified.” It's a little bit of a mouthful to say. But basically, in a nutshell, that's trying to make sure you're as good stewards to the land as possible, trying to do as much sustainable farming as possible, so that you leave as little footprint or impact on the actual land [and waterways] that we have here.” – Chris Kenefick
Question: Why do you think your wines are so well-balanced? – Tricia Conover
“Calistoga is a really unique area. It's one of the narrowest parts in the Napa Valley. We get a lot of heat that comes in during the day. But then we also get a lot of cool weather that comes up over the hill from the Russian River and helps cool down the grapes at night. It gives the fruit a lot of time to recover, which makes for some really unique, bold wines, but very well-balanced wines as well.” – Chris Kenefick
About Chris Kenefick
Chris Kenefick serves as second-generation owner and proprietor of Kenefick Ranch Vineyard & Winery. Chris grew up watching his father, the late Dr. Tom Kenefick, expertly handle every aspect of the vineyard operation, and he adopted his dad’s love for the world of viticulture. In the summer of 2016, Chris left his hospitality and hotel management career to follow his passion for wine. Today he continues to bring his father’s legacy to life by taking a hands-on approach around the ranch and creating the award-winning, sophisticated wines that his family is known for. Chris is also heavily involved in the national sales of Kenefick Ranch.
About Kenefick Ranch
Kenefick Ranch, a family-owned and operated winery, first opened its doors in 1978 when Dr. Tom Kenefick, who was a practicing neurosurgeon in San Francisco, purchased a 250-acre Calistoga ranch located in Napa Valley’s northern most American Viticultural Area (AVA) – Calistoga. For nearly 25 years, Kenefick Ranch has sold its grapes to such prestigious labels as Caymus, Joseph Phelps, Shafer, and Pride Mountain. In 2002, Dr. Kenefick retired from neurosurgery and Kenefick Ranch began producing and selling its own portfolio of award-winning wines. The ranch is planted primarily with Bordeaux varietals -- Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Sauvignon Blanc. Rhone varietals – Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Petite Sirah – complete the portfolio.
2018 Kenefick Ranch Cabernet Franc, Caitlin’s Select, Calistoga, Napa Valley, $50
Our tasting favorite. This wine features aromas of graham cracker pie crust and chocolate, and flavors of bright red fruits, dark cherry, and plum with velvety tannins, 82% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 6% Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in 65% new French oak, and 35% neutral French oak. Estate grown.
With aromas of bright grapefruit and tangerine zest, this zesty wine is perfect with a cheese appetizer for a patio gathering.
This wine features aromas of dark chocolate and cigar box, and flavors of dark berries and plum with dusty, fine tannins, 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in French oak and bottle aged 24 months.
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