Get the Dirt about Kings Carey Wines from winemaker James Sparks

2 Jan

Kings-James1. What was your first vintage year? 2014

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? 500

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? I can taste by appointment at the Liquid Farm tasting room in Lompoc.

4. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? I started working at Dragonette Cellars in 2009 and then took over as winemaker for Liquid Farm in 2013. I’m very lucky and sort of just “fell into” the wine business.

5. What varietals do you work with?  For Kings Carey – Grenache, Semillon, and Syrah.

KingsGrapes6. What vineyards do you source from? Why? Spear Vineyards and Vogelzang Vineyard. Spear Vineyards is organically farmed and in the famed Sta. Rita Hills AVA. A no-brainer for a cool-climate Grenache. Semillon is from Vogelzang due to the vineyard’s SIP Certification, and it is farmed by friends. Semillon grapes are rare in the Santa Ynez Valley.

7. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? Neutral barrel on all wines. Large format barrels for the Grenache. I want the fruit to stand out, not the oak. For what I’m doing with Kings Carey, I don’t believe the wines need new oak. (At least, at this point in time.) I try to keep an open mind in all things and let the wines speak to me as we progress together.

8. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? Diversity from soil to the different micro-climates within the landscape of our area. Which then allows for different varietals and interpretation of those varietals.

KingsBottles9. What’s the story behind your winery name / label? I grew up in Carey, Idaho and my wife, Anna Ferguson, grew up in Kings Point, New York. So we put those locations together. We both love that pop-culture, old school style and decided to do a fun label that reflected some signage in that style. We also went with a more nautical label design since we are in California, the coast is very much a part of our wine growing region, and Kings Point is on the water.

10. 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? My hands are in every aspect of the wine. I can touch and feel every piece. From vineyard to winery to out the door. It allows me to see what I like and don’t like and what I can change for the next year. It’s a very intimate view for me and the consumers.

11. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? Sadly unstable. Too many wines on the market and too many wineries coming on-line. Prices that range wildly from high to low. Large companies buying smaller producers to try and capture that audience. It’s a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Consumers need to wise up, and they also need to hold higher standards for the small producers. Much the same as in the food and farming worlds. Quality over quantity, and price needs to match what is inside the bottle.

12. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? At this point there is no need for me to go to another wine region. I have access to a wide range of varietals that work for me. It’s a beautiful area with diversity and great opportunity.

For more information about Kings Carey,  please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK or Instagram.

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