Kiara Bella Wines
Paso Robles AVA
European-inspired boutique winery, Kiara Bella Wines, offers limited releases of thoughtfully crafted, award-winning wines.
Founded by Walter and Sylvia Filippini in 2016, Kiara Bella Wines is an under-the-radar new winery located on California’s famed Central Coast, specifically within the ever-popular Paso Robles region which is quickly becoming a hot-spot for a myriad of premium wine grape varietals. Kiara Bella Wines is actually a sister brand to the larger Le Vigne Winery, but while the Le Vigne wines tend to be more masculine in style with bigger tannin structure and more extensive barrel aging, the Kiara Bella wines are characteristically smoother, more fruit forward, feminine and beautiful - meant for immediate enjoyment. The rising star winery may still be in its infancy, but Kiara Bella Wines is garnering significant praise and quickly developing a loyal following of its own.
The story behind Kiara Bella dates back to the early 1960’s when Sylvia Filippini’s father, Sylvester Feichtinger, purchased the Paso Robles property where Le Vigne/Kiara Bella now stands. Originally, his 400-acre property was dedicated to hay, orchard fruit, and cattle and it wasn’t until 1982 that he planted his first grapevines. This was just before the Paso Robles AVA was established in 1983, and at a time that growers and winemakers were beginning to see real potential for the Paso Robles area with its unique soils, climate and coastal influence - plus, the grape quality was remarkable. The Feichtingers’ grapes became highly regarded by local producers and it wasn’t long before the family began making high-caliber wines of their own; Sylvester Vineyards and Winery was born and for a number of years was considered among the top producers in the region.
Over the years, the family built a state of the art winery on the property and developed additional vineyards. Today, the family grows Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Malbec and Tannat, in addition to the original plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. When Sylvester Feichtinger decided to leave the wine business, he passed the winery to his daughter Sylvia and her husband Walter Filippini, who was a world-renowned Italian chef and winner of Italy’s National Chef Competition. In 2011, Le Vigne Winery was split off from Sylvester Vineyards to honor Walter’s Italian heritage (Le Vigne is Italian for ‘The Vine’). When the couple later developed Kiara Bella Wines in 2016, Sylvia and Walter named it for their daughter Kiara (Kiara Bella is Italian for ‘Beautiful Kiara’). Additionally, the artwork on Kiara Bella’s wine labels is meant to conjure a European/Italian setting.
The beautiful Le Vigne/Kiara Bella winery and tasting room in Paso Robles is considered a must-stop for everything considered gourmet in the wine and food world - a salute to Walter’s sensational culinary practice and his love for creating imaginative pairing combinations. We hope our Gold Wine Club members enjoy these wonderful selections from Kiara Bella Wines. Cheers!
Wine Wizard: Test Your Wine IQ
1. Why are French wines named after the region and not the grape?
Wines in France, and really in almost all of Europe, have developed in style over centuries and a grape (most often a blend of grapes) was eventually found to suite an area, or better yet, to express the area. To know where the grapes were grown was to know the style of the wine. This classification system remains in effect today, and most French wines still do not call out specific grape varietals on wine labels.
2. How does aging wines in new oak barrels differ from using older oak barrels?
Almost all red wines, and some fuller-bodied white wines, are aged in some kind of oak; new, old, or a combination of the two. The wood allows a small amount of oxygen into the wine, which helps smooth out the texture and ‘rough edges.’ New oak barrels will impart a variety of flavors into the wine, including vanilla, clove, smoke, and caramel. Older oak barrels (ones that have already been used for a few vintages) no longer have any flavors to add to the wine, but winemakers still use them to smooth out the wine’s texture and mouthfeel.
3. What is the process of riddling?
Riddling is an ancient process in sparkling wine production. In this stage of the process, wine bottles are placed on special racks that hold them at a 45 degree angle, with the cap pointed down. Once a day, or every two days for Champagne, the bottles are given a slight shake and turn, alternating from the right to the left, and then are put back in the rack with the angle gradually increased. This pushes the sediment toward the neck of the bottle, and after 2 to 10 weeks, the sediment is removed prior to finishing and corking.
4. For wine bottle storage, should they be rotated on occasion or left alone?
It’s best to leave the bottles alone. There’s a myth that if you rotate your bottles, you’ll help keep the sediment (a harmless byproduct of aging) from accumulating, but by rotating the bottle, you are actually just mixing the sediment into the wine rather than leaving it in place. The best thing for a wine is to keep it stored on one side until you’re ready to serve it, and then gently stand the bottle up so the sediment goes down to the bottom. This allows you to pour the wine while leaving the sediment behind. Why not just store the bottles upright? You don’t want to do this because it puts the cork at risk of drying out and compromising the seal.
Terry Culton, Winemaker
Winemaker for Kiara Bella Wines is Terry Culton, a top winemaker in Paso Robles with an extensive and impressive resume. Terry has been making acclaimed wines for over 20 years and he has worked with several well-known wineries throughout coastal California and Oregon including Peachy Canyon Winery, Adelaida Cellars, Calera Wine Company, and Willamette Valley Vineyards.
In the early days, he was mentored by the great Ken Volk at Wild Horse, a pioneer who started a winery in Paso Robles when there were only a handful of wineries in the area. Terry has a track record of producing wines consistently rated 90+ Points, and it is no surprise that he was named a “Top-Flight Winemaker” by Robert Parker (The Wine Advocate). He is happy to be a part of the Kiara Bella/Le Vigne family and he enjoys crafting boutique wines from the historic estate.