Marin County AVA
A winemaker to watch, Stewart Johnson is hands-on from vine to bottle, crafting award-winning wines for his ultra-boutique Kendric Vineyards winery in Marin County.
A small vigneron's operation in Marin County of Northern California, Kendric Vineyards is the brainchild of Stewart Johnson who traded practicing law for a life in wine country. Today, he is the one-man band behind an ultra-boutique wine label, acting as the owner, grower, winemaker and salesman - while crafting award-winning wines that show the unique character of this tiny appellation.
Growing up in rural Amador County, California, Stewart got his start in agriculture early on, working with prunes, walnuts and grapes through his high school years, and it instilled in him a love for working with the land. He also helped plant a 4-acre Sangiovese vineyard on his parents' land in Amador's Shenandoah Valley, which would go on to supply quality wine grapes to nearby wineries.
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Stewart spent four years in the Political Science Doctoral program at Yale, before leaving for law school at Hastings College of Law. It was during an internship at the Environmental Protection Agency that Stewart realized practicing law in a cubicle, in an office building, was not for him. He longed to be outside in the field, connecting with the earth and growing wine grapes - specifically Pinot Noir, which had caught his attention. With his wife, Eileen Burke, Stewart discovered the pastoral beauty of Marin County and was inspired to plant his own Pinot Noir vineyard in the little-known region.
With that dream in the back of his mind, Stewart furthered his education by interning at a handful of nearby wineries and enrolling in extension courses for viticulture and enology at UC Davis. On his drives through Marin and Sonoma counties, he would often ponder about the open pasture land that seemed just right for a winery - and in 2001, he began the quest for the perfect piece of property.
Marin County may offer an ideal cool climate for growing Pinot Noir, but finding good soil in the small growing region is no easy feat. Stewart spent over a year scrutinizing over soil and topographic maps of Marin and digging over 300 soil sample pits looking for just the right combination of soil type and exposure. He finally struck a deal on a plot of land in Northern Marin, just south of the Sonoma County border, yet still part of the esteemed Petaluma Gap AVA. The east-facing property was shielded from strong ocean wines and the fog layer by nearby Mount Burdell, and the soils had great drainage - which is hard to come by in Marin. Stewart planted an eight and a half acre vineyard there in 2002 and the first harvest for Kendric Vineyards came in 2004.
Kendric Vineyards is named after Stewart's father, Kendric, who passed away in 2001. Naming the company after him seemed like the best way to honor his memory and while imposing his high personal standards on the undertaking. Stewart still works closely with his mother, Kathleen Johnson, co-managing the Sangiovese vineyard on her Shenandoah Valley ranch, which now provides fruit to the Kendric Vineyards portfolio as well.
The wines for Kendric Vineyards are made at Stewart's winery facility on Treasure Island, a former naval base in the middle of San Francisco Bay. His winery space is an old schoolhouse where children of the Navy were once educated. With the growing interest of people coming out to Treasure Island, Stewart hopes to one day open a tasting room and create a hospitality space for visitors to enjoy his Kendric Vineyards wines. While still focused on Pinot Noir, Stewart has added Syrah, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Rosé, and Viognier to his portfolio.
We are pleased to share the award-winning 2018 Kendric Pinot Noir and introduce this rather under-the-radar wine region with our Pinot Noir Wine Club members. Please enjoy!