A Unique Sonoma County Wine Draws High Honors


(DGIwire)   “Wine,” wrote Benjamin Franklin, “is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” Three centuries later, wine still fills us with joy. And with the popularity of barrel auctions, the drink is gladdening the hearts not only of wine drinkers but also of winemakers—when their vintages win notable honors. On May 1, 2015, a range of unique wines fueled a total of $461,700 in winning bids at the inaugural Sonoma County Barrel Auction in Santa Rosa, CA. The tasting and auction event was attended by more than 250 top trade and media guests, and featured rare, small-lot wines.

Kevin Kinsella, owner of the Kinsella Estates vineyard in Healdsburg, CA, had a special reason to be happy. At the Sonoma auction, a 10-case lot of his 2012 Tamara Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon wine sold for $16,000—the second-highest price per bottle out of the entire 74 lots in the auction. And that was just one bit of good news for the wine. The very same week, Wine Spectator magazine awarded Kinsella’s 2012 Cabernet a 93-point rating—the second-highest score for Cabernet in the “California Most Exciting New Wines” category. In fact, the wine outscored all but one of the Napa wines in the magazine’s poll. It was the only Cabernet on the sheet from Sonoma; all the rest were from Napa.

photo 3-1What distinguishes the 2012 Kinsella Cabernet? The wine shows expression of Kinsella’s unique vineyard, drenched in warmth during the West Dry Creek growing season. The vineyard is a steep-sloping, two-acre, 16-year-old parcel, wedged in between an arroyo and a knoll of Spanish oaks. The wine leads with a distinctive red licorice nose and a hint of dusty minerality. Gorgeous bright red fruit flavors of fresh tart cherries and ripe raspberries are layered with cedar cigar box notes. As the wine opens up, it shows incredible elegance and finesse.

Kinsella’s personal history is as interesting as that of his wines. A relative newcomer to winemaking—Kinsella Estates is only eight years old—he has enjoyed a long and successful professional career as a venture capitalist. The founder of Avalon Ventures, Kinsella has specialized in the formation, financing and development of more than 120 early-stage companies. He won the 2006 Tony Award for producing the Broadway megahit Jersey Boys, which is the name of the largest vineyard at Kinsella Estates.

When friends encouraged him to explore the “art of the vine,” he chose an organically farmed vineyard situated in a private valley in the foothills of the western edge of Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Elevated 500 feet above the Russian River, the valley enjoys a warm climate that never sees winter frost. Friends also introduced Kinsella to Thomas Rivers Brown, who serves as Kinsella Estates’ winemaker.IMG_7013_2

Kinsella Estates is definitely on the map now in Sonoma County,” says Kinsella. “These recent honors are a testament to the hard work the entire team has put into the vineyard and winemaking over the past few years. I am delighted by the recognition we are receiving and look forward to many more years of making great wine.”