One of the best things about visiting a boutique winery is being able to meet and greet with the proprietor, the vineyard manager, or the winemaker. The best thing about visiting Kukkula is you can meet all three because all those roles are each filled by founder Kevin Jussila.
Kevin, whose professional background is in business money management, has always been an agricultural enthusiast — an enthusiasm that transformed him into a hobbyist winemaker. In 2003 he decided to turn that hobby into a parallel career path (Kevin is still in the corporate business game), purchasing his 80-acre property off of Chimney Rock Road in the Adelaida hills of Paso Robles. ” In December of 2004 we moved to the Central Coast and started to build the dream,” Kevin says. And he means this literally. An avid architect enthusiast, Kevin’s are the hands that built both his family home and his current tasting room — both of which sit atop his beautiful estate vineyards.
One of the fun things about living in the SF South Bay area is the abundance of hiking trails. As an active, outdoorsy type, getting lost in the woods is one of my favorite past times. I’ll never forget the first time I found a path along Steven’s Creek and decided to follow it because of its name “Zinfandel Trail.” At the time I just thought it was funny, but a couple miles up and around the mountain I came across a sign that piqued my interest “Winery ➡️.” So I followed it. Of course. At the end of my trail I found Picchetti Winery. So I popped in and did a tasting. Of course. And I absolutely fell in love with their signature white wine blend Pavone.
Winemaker Clarissa Nagy was kind enough to send me a complete package of her current releases. I immediately fell in love with the tenacity of her Viognier. I was bowled over by the voluptuous fruits in her Syrah. So I absolutely expected good things when I opened Nagy Wines 2012 Pinot Noir. But “good things” does not adequately describe the drinking experience. “Exceeds expectations,” still doesn’t do the wine justice. I may, my friends, be at a loss for words to describe just how well-balanced, refined, and, well, just plain tasty this Central Coast Pinot Noir is.
“Simple ingredients done right.” I’m sure a number of chefs have said those words, but in my mind I hear them whispered by the gentle giant Marco Pierre White. I say these words today because I’m celebrating Laurel Glen Vineyard, a winery whose name is synonymous with Sonoma County Cab simply because (outside of one current release Sauvignon Blanc) that is all they do. They’ve chosen their ingredient, and they’ve done it — to perfection.
I’d never heard of Hearthstone Estate until I was approached to taste their wines. Imagine my surprise when, upon opening the package, a bottle of Montepulciano was staring right up at me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen, let a lone tasted, a California Montepulciano. I discovered — and fell in love with — the varietal when eating my way through Italy on my honeymoon. I know to those more versed in Italian wines, Montepulciano may seem like an everyday “bulk-buy” type wine, but to me it bottles the beauty I think of when I think of Italian culture — forza, forte, y la bella vita. What I’m saying is that this wine had a lot to live up to…