Get the Dirt about Kendric Vineyards from Stewart Johnson

14 Apr

kendricpeople1. What was your first vintage year? 2004

2. How many cases do you make per vintage?  Around 900.

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? Not yet open regularly. Appointments OK via or 415.806.4944

4. If not you, who is your winemaker? I’m the grower, winemaker, etc.

5. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? Planted vineyard for my folks.

6. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? A mid-70s Chalone with about 10 years of bottle age was my pinot epiphany.

7. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make?  Pinot and viognier from my vineyard, sangiovese from my mom’s vineyard. Pinot is always nearest and dearest to my heart.


8. What vineyards do you source from? Why? I’ve purchased syrah from the Russian River and gewurztraminer from Carneros in 2014. Otherwise, everything comes from vineyards I planted myself. For the pinot, I started prospecting in Marin because of the marine influence. It’s a great climate, but I had to dig about 200 backhoe pits to find great soil.

9. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? The pinot gets mostly French oak, about 30% new. I use both Francoise Freres for bass notes and Artisan barrels made from the Jupilles forest for more floral aromatics. The sangiovese gets a mix of French and (slightly more rustic) Hungarian barrels, about 25% new. The viognier is all stainless to preserve the crispness I’m trying to feature there.

10. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? A large part of what I love about Marin is the obvious maritime influence. I’m situated about mid-way between Tomales Bay and San Francisco Bay. I also love that it’s surprisingly affordable because all of west Marin is zoned for agriculture — I’m competing with cows, not condos, for my patch of ground.

kendriclabel11. What’s the story behind your name/label? It was named for my father, Kendric Johnson, who died just as I was getting the vineyards established.

12. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? It’s a lot easier to buy grapes than to plant your own. Actually, people probably did tell me that, but I’m not great about taking advice.

13. Most importantly, what’s so great about being small? What can you do as a small winemaker, that wouldn’t be possible for larger wineries? I can experiment more — at least now that I have my own winery. I can fuss around with different small lots and incorporate what works in a larger way in subsequent vintages.

14. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? Distribution is tough. You have to build a direct-to-consumer business.

15. Have you noticed any changes in the market for small-production wineries? Fortunately, the internet has made it easier for niche producers to find their market.

16. Any other thoughts on the wine business in general? We seem pretty immature and faddish here in CA — one minute super-ripe is hip, the next minute everyone is competing to be the lowest alcohol wine on the shelf. I look forward to the day when there is less fashion and more substance to winemakers’ quest for “balance.”

For more information about Kendric Vineyards, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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