Ken Volk, Winemaker
She reached right past the bottle of white wine to fill her glass with the red, a Kenneth Volk Vineyards Merlot. The Merlot was excellent—Ken makes a killer Merlot—but she should really try the KVV Malvasia Bianca, too. “I prefer red wine,” she declared until she finally tasted the dry yet luscious Malvasia after dinner. Stopping herself with a sip, “This” she said “is the best white wine I’ve ever had.” I know: this wine, perfect for Mediterranean days and only available at KVV tasting rooms, is really good. It’s just one of the many outstanding wines they produce, and it can only be had when you visit the source or join their Cellar Door Club.
Visit the Source, Reap the Benefits
For the optimum sensory and social experience of Kenneth Volk Vineyards wines, you must visit the source. Although KVV wines are available at the supermarket less than a mile from my home in San Luis Obispo, I prefer to visit their winery and tasting room in the Santa Maria Valley and, when traveling in northern SLO County, their Paso westside tasting room. The experience of tasting a range of such well-made wines and interacting with this winery’s staff and winemaker is well worth the beautiful drive. Anyway, wines stored upright on the shelf under florescent lights simply don’t taste as lively as wines stored in proper cellar conditions. Don’t base your attitude toward any local winery, including KVV, on a bottle you just picked up at the store. You’ve got to go to the source to taste the wine as the winemaker intended.
At the Santa Maria winery and in the Paso Robles tasting room, enjoy a guided tour of their numerous outstanding wines by intelligent and informed tasting room staff. The folks in the tasting room exude a confidence about the quality of the wines they’re pouring that not every winery can boast. These wines taste delicious and are well made, making the job at the tasting bar that much easier. KVV wines taste like they cost more than they do.
Wine geek, Deadhead, one of the original hard partying “Dark Sockets,” passionate gardener and plant breeder, serious Lakers fan, and KVV winemaker Ken Volk makes these delicious wines. With more than 31 years of winemaking experience in the Central Coast, Ken scours the far reaches of this quiet corner of California for the good fruit and good friends that one needs to produce outstanding wine. Ken uses the latest winemaking technology such as the OXO system for easily stirring the lees of white wines during barrel aging. He also practices thoughtful, informed, old-fashioned winemaking using only the best of the ultra-premium grapes grown throughout the Central Coast.
As any good cook will tell you, start with the best ingredients if you want to make something truly exceptional. Ken’s solid relationships with growers throughout the Central Coast aid him in getting some of the very best fruit available from the region’s finest vineyards such as Bien Nacido and Sierra Madre in the Santa Maria Valley and the Starr and Pomar Junction Vineyards in the Paso Robles AVA. Harvested fruit from beyond the KVV estate vineyard comes to the winery from as far north as Lime Kiln Valley in San Benito County and as near as the winery property’s fence line neighbors in the Santa Maria Valley.
Ken harbors a soft spot for Pinot Noir and works with some of the best Central Coast fruit of this varietal. KVV always offers several memorable Pinot Noirs on their tasting list and online store, especially the vineyard designate “black label” wines. They also produce wine from unique heirloom varietals such as Malvasia Bianca and Cabernet Pfeffer, which offers the chance to expand tasters’ horizons beyond the usual varietal suspects. A commitment to handcrafted winemaking and outstanding quality sets KVV apart from the crowded field of Central Coast wineries as well as the gracious atmosphere they cultivate at both their Santa Maria Valley winery/tasting room and their new “satellite” tasting room just off the 46 on the west side of Paso Robles.
KVV also offers its wine club members the chance to customize their shipments through the sophisticated web-based system: they can opt for Ken’s picks, choose something else, or add to their shipment to easily stock up on these food friendly wines. Most wineries send every wine club member the same shipment, but KVV’s Cellar Door Club gives you options. It’s the wine club for tech savvy wine geeks, for sure, with a diverse collection of excellent wines made from Bordeaux and Burgundian varietals as well as less familiar varietals such as Aglianico and Touriga Nacional.
We’re proud to feature Kenneth Volk Vineyards as an exceptional producer of Central Coast wines. From their cutting edge wine club to their careful stewardship of these wines from the vineyard to the tasting room, KVV should not be missed by visitors or locals. For so many reasons, be sure to seek out this winery when visiting the Central Coast: taste wines that can make determined red wine lovers fall in love with whites, connect to other wine lands around the world through KVV’s heirloom varietals, and enjoy the vinified product that reflects the passion of the winemaker and the quality of Central Coast fruit.