We had the good fortune of meeting Kale Anderson at the Rhone Rangers seminar and tasting in Los Angeles. Kale sat on a panel of Rhone wine luminaries and more than held his own. We were curious to find out how Kale found success at such a young age. We also wanted to find out what it was like to make Rhone wines in the traditionally Bordeaux focused Napa Valley. Here is our interview with Kale.
California Winery Adivsor: How did you get started out making wine?
Kale Anderson: I grew up in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County surrounded by the wine industry, but innocently unaware and uninterested in wine. After high school, I decided to attend UC Davis with the idea of going into medicine. I started a summer research project in the Murphy Plant Biology Lab, and discovered from a graduate student the Viticulture and Enology program. I took the introductory course because it seemed like a fun way to satisfy a bunch of requirements. I was totally fascinated by the intersection of science, creativity, culture, travel. The lifestyle was the original draw, but did I have a passion, talent for tasting?
I took an internship at J Wine Company in Healdsburg over the next summer, and joined tasting groups on campus, and changed my major the following year.
CWA: How would you describe your wine making style?
KA: I am fascinated and inspired by many styles of wine. I like to think my wines are authentic, interesting, delicious, show time and place.
CWA: What challenges have you faced as a small production winemaker?
KA: Getting started, capital intensive. Time-intensive, competing with large companies for attention and resources.
CWA: What advice do you wish you had received when you started out making wine?
KA: I had a lot of great advice before making wine. I have had many great mentors.
CWA: How do you and other small wineries connect with potential consumers?
KA: Social Media, traditional media, trade organizations, tasting room.
CWA: When you are making wine, do you have a particular consumer in mind?
KA: Yes, I always have the owner, the consumer, my palette/ideas, and critics in mind when making wine.
CWA: Do you have a tasting room?
KA: Yes, The Wine Thief at Oxbow in the city of Napa.
CWA: Do you have a wine club?
KA: Yes, on https://kalewines.vinespring.com/register
CWA: Where can people buy your wines?
KA: On my website https://kalewines.vinespring.com/purchase
CWA: How do you market your wines? Do you advertise or use any social media promotions?
KA: No advertising, only social media
CWA: How does the three tier system impact small winemakers and consumers?
KA: It makes our wines expensive, and cuts into our margins. However, I consider it an important part of building our brand.
CWA: How does being part of the Rhone Rangers impact your business?
KA: Rhone Rangers helps get our wines in front of people who love Rhone varieties like us.
CWA: What is it about Rhone style wines that excites you as a winemaker?
KA: Terroir is magnified in Rhone wines, and they express time and place as well as any variety.
CWA: Can you tell us about a few other winemakers you are really excited about right now?
KA: There are too many, and I would feel bad about leaving people out.
CWA: What were the last two bottles of wine you found really memorable?
KA: Rhone Wines - Whites from Costieres de Nimes, 2008 Ornellaia Masseto Merlot.
CWA: Are you seeing any trends in Napa that you can tell us about?
KA: There is a an acceptance to new varietals in Napa which is refreshing. There is also a stylistic swing to more restrained styles.
CWA: How do you feel about the current wine rating system? Do you feel consumers are benefiting from the system?
KA: I think the current rating system is important to consumers, but I feel people are more adventurous and less dependent on traditional systems - particularly Millenials.
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