California, and especially the Bay Area, has a long, glorious history of family-run wineries. There's a lot of history laying around the region but with so much growth over the past few years, it's gotten harder and harder to find the people who helped develop the area, and continue to have that intimate connection with the land that can transform our understanding of what a wine really is.
The Kunde Family Estate has celebrated over a century among the lush vines and rolling hills of the Sonoma Valley. A visit to Kunde remains a family affair, and while there, one can begin to understand not only why some folks might want to stick around this beautiful spot for a few decades, but more importantly, how both the wines and the vineyards have developed in harmony with their surroundings.
Of course the wines of Kunde have evolved over the years, but certainly more slowly than the market has. As wine trends have moved in and out of fashion the Kunde Family Estate have improved their wines, continuing to focus on getting the purist expression of their fine vineyards in each bottle. The wines span a broad range from vibrant young whites to rich, age worthy reds that epitomize the style that made California's northern valleys famous for the wines they produced.
I have long been a fan of Kunde's style. They are wines that are friendly and familiar, harkening back to the days when wines were made to be consumed, shared over meals, and simply enjoyed. These are wonderful wines that start in the vineyards, which are all farmed sustainably. The Kunde Family Estate spans over 1850 acres with some 700 acres under vine. The estate is comprised of two main ranches, the original Wildwood Vineyards that Louis Kunde purchased in 1904 and the neighboring Kinneybrook Ranch, which was purchased by the Kunde's in 1977.
The vineyards straddle 7 distinct microclimates, creating a unique opportunity for the Kunde family to cultivate 20 varieties of grapes; each in its ideal location. Interspersed among these vineyard blocks are extensive stretches of woods, native grasslands and chaparral ensuring the sustainable health of the whole estate. These uncultivated lands support the growth of native predators that help control the pest population in the vineyards, allowing the Kunde's to forgo treatments that may have been routine in the past.
All these efforts have been undertaken to preserve these lands for the Kunde family and their enthusiastic fans. It's a win-win plan, great for the family who lives among these vines, and for the vines as well. All you have to do is take a look at the fantastically verdant "century" vines that form the heart of the Kunde Reserve Century Vines Zinfandel bottling. Treasures like these are becoming increasingly rare with each passing year. It's good to know that the Kunde family values them as much as we do! And that just brings me back to the wines.
These are classic wines, some, like the Century Zin, are still made using American oak barrels. Ironically this sets these wines apart from much of their competition since so many winemakers have opted for French oak for all their wines. I love the influence of the American oak on the Kunde wines, and find that their style, marked by moderation and limited intervention, has consistently produced wines that highlight the best that California has to offer. And the best part? Remember that Kunde Family Estate wines are still made to be consumed, and are priced accordingly. These are great wines and great values that are worth discovering so take a look at the current offerings and see which one might ring your bell!
2008 Kunde Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay Sonoma Valley
Light and fresh on the nose with notes of sweet pear, peach and lime gently topped with touches of herb, anise, and gentle smoky wood spice. On entry this is quite delicate and elegant with a lush, round feel showing lovely integration. The flavors are a bit spicier than the aromas with polished, vanilla tinged notes of crisp apple and peach. The finish shows that touch of anise again with a long gentle feel to the lime and peach toned finale. 91pts
2007 Kunde Family Estate Reserve Century Vines Zinfandel Sonoma Valley
Sweet briary fruit greets the nose with layers of tobacco, black raspberry, earth, chocolate, and vanilla tinged oak spice all joining together to fill the glass. On entry this is pretty tight with a forward rush of floral fruit that’s held in check by somewhat stiff tannins. The mid-palate grows to reveal very fresh, finely detailed black berry fruit edged in mint and cocoa. This is very young but the wine gains a suppleness on the backend and then really pops on the finish with bright berry fruit and a finale of soft wood spice. 92pts
2007 Kunde Family Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley
Chocolate, crème de cassis and a touch of sweet bacon fat greet the nose followed by emerging notes of vanilla and light toast. On entry this is quite tight and focused with moderate but obvious tannins. The mid-palate shows some nice wood spice tones with notes of pencil lead over the core of pure black currant fruit. There are incipient hints of herbs and soft suggestions of chocolate emerging around the edges of the fruit. The finish shows fine clarity to the fruit and is clipped a bit by the tannins as they close down. This needs a year or two to fully integrate, or several hours in a decanter, but has excellent balance and purity already so can only improve. 91pts
Other recently reviewed Kunde Family Estate wines
2008 Kunde Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc Magnolia Lane
2007 Kunde Family Estate Chardonnay Sonoma Valley
2006 Kunde Family Estate Chardonnay Kinneybrook Vineyard
2005 Kunde Family Estate Chardonnay Sonoma Valley Reserve
2006 Kunde Family Estate Syrah
2005 Kunde Family Estate Reserve Century Vines Zinfandel
2005 Kunde Family Estate Sonoma Valley Barbera
2006 Kunde Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon`
2004 Kunde Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
2006 Kunde Family Estate Sangiovese
2005 Kunde Family Estate Vallee de la Lune 2005