Kimmel Ranch, Potter Valley, Mendocino County
Kimmel Vineyards is located in Potter Valley, Mendocino County, California. Established as Kimwood Ranch in 1963, the property is approximately 1100 acres with the vineyards at an elevation of about 1000 feet. The first Chardonnay vines were planted in 1986. The Merlot vineyard was planted in 1997. Recent grafting with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec will provide for future Bordeaux blends. Plans also call for a Cabernet Sauvignon release in 2013.
IN SEARCH OF A SPECIAL PROPERTY
Ranch life started for Ed and Lillian Kimmel in Sonoma California, where their three boys, Jim, Gary and Dennis experienced life on 8 rural acres raising chickens, sheep, cows, and growing fresh vegetables.
But parents, Ed and Lillian had bigger dreams! Over hill and over dale was the theme of nearly every weekend until the perfect ranch was found. As Gary tells it, "I remember traveling many dirt roads throughout Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, but starting thinking after our second trip back to the Colonel Stiles Ranch in Potter Valley about 2.5 hours north of Sonoma that something must be up." The Kimmels had found a very special piece of Mendocino County. Gary continues,"I remember the trip well, in the spring of 1963. It was overcast, gray skies, cloudy, with some drizzles. As we hiked the hills from one top to another, exploring yet another clearing, the adventure was exhilarating. Everything was green and very lush. Lots of trees, ferns, native oaks, many groves of Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir stood like towering giants. Water seemed to be everywhere, springs coming up from the ground and out of the sides of hills. Creeks, that seemed more like rivers, were abundant."
KIMWOOD RANCH - PREMIUM CHARDONNAY TERROIR
Kimwood Ranch, as it came to be known, is a unique property with many natural resources. The terrain has a little bit of everything, fertile bottom ground with many rolling hills along with peaks that would climb to over 1700 feet. Wildlife is plentiful bear, deer, squirrels, quail the size of chickens, wild turkeys, wild pig, and coyotes as well as many different kinds of songbirds and raptors, the most impressive is the red tailed hawk.
The ranch began as a commercial cattle operation for Ed, Lillian and the boys with the thought of making enough money to make the ranch payments and property tax. The front fields were already in permanent pasture as a result of an earlier dairy operation so it was easy to continue irrigating during Summer time and cutting hay for feeding in the Winter. Additional land was prepared and planted to pasture as more cows were added to the herd. Watering all the fields was about a 10-day cycle with the moving of pipe and 12-hour settings.
By the late 70's, Ed and Lillian moved to the ranch full time and took up residence in the original ranch house built in 1916. Commuting was now to work rather than to the ranch, but a life that was enjoyed by both Ed and Lillian.
In the 80's, as operating costs continued to rise and cattle prices fell, Ed looked for other options to pay for their dream. Prunes or pears were not an option. Potter Valley was predominately planted with those orchards and those prices were down as well. Looking to neighboring Napa and Sonoma Counties, it was thought wine vineyards would do well in the Valley and become a more viable agriculture use for the Ranch. Ed talked to John Parducci and with John's encouragement, decided to plant Chardonnay grapes. The first vines were then planted in 1986 replacing most of the permanent pasture keeping one field for the few remaining cows.
Ed was able to enjoy the fruits of his labor and dream with harvests in 1989 and 1990 before passing away during the 1991 season. Driving the Ford tractor as the workers hand-picked the grapes, loading the big truck with 2-ton bins, and driving to the scales and winery to drop off 6 tons of Chardonnay grapes provided the Kimmel Family with many early stories still told around the dinner table.
Lillian and the boys have continued farming the property under the care and guidance of Mark Welch as our vineyard manager. Twelve additional acres of Merlot were planted with Mark's supervision in 1997. Ed always wanted a "red" grape so the Merlot was planted in his memory on the knoll across Williams Creek. It was one of the spots he would drive to at the end of the day to look over his Ranch.
Mark is well known in the wine community and very active in support of the developing wine industry in Mendocino County. Mark recently explained the special growing conditions on the Ranch: "Because the vineyards lie on the west side of the valley against the foothills between Redwood Valley and Potter Valley, this pocket of land relative to the terrior has excellent soils, and is blessed with afternoon breezes that cool the vineyard. This combination of excellent soils, cool afternoon breezes and proper canopy management produces consistently high quality grapes.
KIMMEL VINEYARDS - A PERFECT PAIRING OF OUR PASSIONS
In 2007, Lillian, Jim, Gary, and Dennis decided to save a few choice lots from the harvest for their very own brand and Kimmel Vineyards was born. Kimmel Vineyards is a family endeavor covering three generations and we are very proud and excited about being able to craft wines from land we all know so well.
With our focus on two varietals Chardonnay and Merlot we sought out a winemaker with equal passion about hand crafted, small lot wines. We found our match in Bruce Regalia, who has led us through every stage of our inaugural release of the 2007 Chardonnay and continues to nurture our 2008 harvest, now in barrrel while working with Mark Welch to coax along the upcoming 2009 harvest.
Working with consulting winemaker Bruce Regalia, we have focused on two varietals - Chardonnay and Merlot - that perfectly express what we have come to love about this land.
We are very pleased and excited to bring this wine to you.
LEARN MORE ABOUT US >
LEARN MORE ABOUT WINEMAKER BRUCE REGALIA >