What’s love got to do with it?
Just about everything, according to Kenny Kahn, the ebullient owner of Alexander Valley’s star winery named Blue Rock Vineyard.
“I truly love what I am doing,” Kahn explained recently. “Since I consider myself first as a consumer, the winery offers me a chance to make things better. The only person I have to fight with is me, and I offer myself no compromise. I intend to make the finest wines possible with what Mother Nature has provided me. Fortunately, she has been very gracious as to the quality of earth and surroundings at Blue Rock.”
For the record, Blue Rock Estate Vineyard is a property with an admirable past. It is comprised of approximately 100 acres, of which forty-six are under vine. A fully restored historic stone built house and extensive gardens date back to the 1880’s and provide a unique insight into a classical Tuscan-style villa and grounds.
Kenny Kahn’s long term affection for wines began in the 1970’s in his hometown of Memphis. Kahn was then a recent graduate of Rhodes College who followed his father into one of the nation’s first discount brokerage businesses. A close friend, Milton Picard, had amassed a huge Bordeaux cellar and began offering Kahn an opportunity to taste some of the world’s rarest and greatest wines.
“I was hooked from the beginning,” confessed Kahn, now 61. “My wife and I started taking cooking classes and the wines were the highlight of all our activities. Milton was looking for someone to educate about really fine wines and I happened to be the lucky person he chose.”
After selling his family’s first business, Kenny and wife Cheryl (now a medical doctor) decided to move west and the rest of the Blue Rock Estate story is history.
The Kahns looked around both Napa and Sonoma and finally settled on the site in Alexander Valley. The property was located adjacent to vineyards owned by iconic Silver Oak Vineyards and seemed perfect for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Kenny Kahn’s favorite varietal.
“I had literally started in the wine business drinking great Bordeaux,” Kahn continued, but there were eleven different varietals under vine when we bought the property. I knew we needed to replant if we were ever going to make truly great Cabernet.”
The winery’s name, Blue Rock Estate, comes from the vineyard’s soils, which are studded with blue pebbles, rocks, and boulders of serpentine. The serpentine rock defines the unique flavor profile of the vineyard, as serpentine naturally reduces the yields to very low levels. Today, the very best vineyards are planted on devigorating rootstocks in order to improve the flavor and density, something that occurs naturally at Blue Rock.
The entire vineyard was replanted in a number of Cabernet clones and a small planting of Syrah was also added to suit Kahn’s taste. A decision was made to limit tonnage in favor of quality, and the vineyard became an instant success. For the next seventeen years, most of the fruit was sold to a neighboring winery that always used the grapes for a vineyard-designated wine.
Jump ahead to 1999, and Kenny Kahn brought a homemade wine to a local gathering. The resulting fanfare caused Kahn to consider making a Blue Rock Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon for consumers to enjoy. In 2001, he hired Nick Goldsmith (Simi Winery) as a consulting winemaker and released the first 550 cases of wine in 2001 to nearly instant critical acclaim. Since that time, the winery had grown slowly and will produce around 6,000 cases this year, a level that Kenny Kahn feels suits his company well.
“We presently have seven different Cabernet clones in our vineyards. We feel that to get better at what we do we must build our competition from within our vineyard to be a true estate vineyard. We are fortunate that Blue Rock Estate is an area where Cabernet really shines and that was our main purpose in the beginning. We are intent on producing world class wines and our two most recent vintages (2009 and 2010) are something else to behold. The wines from these vintages should be show stoppers.”
It is seldom that one finds a man truly ensconced in his own element as Kenny Kahn most certainly is. Blue Rock Vineyard is a complete success and is still in its embryonic stages according to its owner.
Blue Rock Vineyard certainly deserves its many plaudits as does its hard-working owners, Cheryl and Kenny Kahn.
Blue Rock Vineyards - Alexander Valley - Sonoma Co
92 Points, Editor’s Choice - Wine Enthusiast magazine
What’s love got to do with it?
- Blue Rock2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Alexander Valley
- Sonoma County
- 92 Points - Editor's Choiceid: 884