Kansas winemaker Jennifer McDonald is on the fast-track to breaking the mid-west winemaking mold. The young woman made wines at home and worked on her business plan for 4 years before releasing her inaugural vintages of her Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And with the opening of her downtown Witchita winery just around the corner, she looks forward to increasing her portfolio to include Moscato, a Red Blend, a single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and even a Fruit Blend made from local Kansas produce.
McDonald calls herself a huge advocate for entrepreneurship. Her personal motto is “Have faith and never give up!”
Read more of Jenny’s story here.
Happy Valentine’s Day! To celebrate this week of love I’m featuring “Perfect Partners in Wine Crime.” Looking at my wine collection, it occurred to me that many California winemakers — especially those in Northern California — who produce Pinot Noir also specialize in Chardonnay. These two grapes couldn’t be more different — from their biological make up to how vintners go about turning them into wine. (Learn more about Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.) Yet, they keep coming to my door in pairs — one white, one red; one Chard, one Pinot. So this week’s experiment celebrates that, maybe even in wine, opposites do attract. Each of the producers below “specializes,” if you will, in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the exception being my New Zealand case study), so I tasted them each together within the span of an evening to see if and how these wines complemented each other.
I don’t have a great way to introduce this wine, but I will say that Halcón’s 2015 Cerise Vineyards Pinot Noir is the perfect way to conclude this brief featured series on the winery. Like all the wines I’ve tasted from Halcón, this Pinot Noir is beautifully nuanced — in this case so much so that words (almost) escape me. One thing you should know is that if this wine intrigues you as much as it does me, you’ll want to grab a bottle ASAP — this is Halcón’s first and only vintage using fruit from Cerise Vineyards, as it has since been sold to Kosta Browne.
My first experience with Halcón Vineyards was a taste of their estate Syrah — the great Rhône grape produced in the classic Côte-Rôtie style is what Halcón has built its reputation on. So enamored was I by this Syrah that I am saving it for a week-long series on California Rhônes as a prime example of what our great state can do with these grapes from my favorite region of the wine Motherland. (Sorry, folks, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to hear more…)
I mention this because, having spoken to a lot of Rhône winemakers from various California regions, I’ve heard one comment quite a bit. And that is that many Pinot Noir producers are, in fact, intrigued by Syrah: with its broad style-spectrum, highly dependent on terroir, it is often referred to as the “Winemakers Grape,” highly mis-understood by consumers, but the passion of many a wine-producer. In this case, Paul Gordon has flipped that switch the other way — a passionate Rhône producer who’s taken on the “Winemaker’s Headache Grape.”
New Zealand’s winemaking history dates back to the colonial days, when the British first settled on the tiny island. But it wasn’t until the 1960s and into the 1970s that New Zealand became a presence on the winemaking map. At this time there was an influx of New Zealanders traveling abroad to Europe, experiencing the wines and vines of that continent, and bringing home with them the knowledge and the passion to put their own “kiwi” twist on the Old World’s drink.
Though the New Zealand wine industry is quite tiny, producing less than 1% of the world’s wine, it is home to 11 different wine regions. And while the country’s “claim to wine fame” may be Sauvignon Blanc (indeed, nearly 70% of New Zealand’s vines are planted to the white grape, totaling about 200,000 tons harvested each year), there are certain regions where other grapes — like Pinot Noir — can claim a small kingdom.