Mount Veeder AVA
Producing intense fruit with magnificent varietal flavors
There are several aspects of Korbin Kameron Vineyards that separate the stylish young winery operation from many of its competitors. While these facets might seem minimal to the casual observer, they are important to note when considering the winery’s brief history.
First of all, Korbin Kameron’s vineyards are located at an altitude of around 2,300 feet, among the highest elevations in Northern California. Located on a ridgeline at the top of Mt. Veeder, the vineyards are located mostly in Sonoma County, but with a portion on the Napa Valley side. At this altitude, the vines work hard to produce intense fruit with magnificent varietal flavors. They are forced to work as hard as possible and only produce small quantities of fruit.
Secondly, Korbin Kameron Vineyards is owned by the Mitchell Ming Family, of Hong Kong/Chinese descent. It is one of but a couple of wineries owned by Chinese-Americans. The account of how this emerging winery came into existence is a wonderful story that bears telling.
Mitchell Ming, 55, and his wife Jenny, came to California while in their teens. They immediately fell in love with Northern California and in particular, Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Their actual business centered on the fashion industry, but their love for wine finally caused them to seek out property and plant some vineyards.
In 1999, Mitchell Ming happened across a large (180-acre) parcel in Sonoma atop Mt. Veeder, which, at times, was actually in the clouds. He fell in love with the spot and purchased the property. In 2000, the first twenty acres were cleared and vineyards started. Along the way, Ming enlisted the help of Javier Renteria, a vineyard specialist whose forte was high altitude plantings. After careful planning and a great deal of work, the vineyards began producing extremely high quality fruit.
In 2008, the first release of 800 cases of the new Korbin Kameron Vineyards took place. Ming’s twin children, Korbin and Kameron, supplied the names for the winery. Korbin, now 26, also serves as the entity’s general manager. “We do everything around here together,” he explained. “We are definitely a hands-on operation, and we believe that our being involved gives our wines their identity. The wine industry is all about passion, and we are certainly passionate about our products.” At Korbin Kameron Vineyards, the emphasis is on Bordeaux varietals, the types of wines for which Mitchell Ming first developed a taste. When it came time to select the varietals he wished to plant, Ming simply chose the ones that produced his favorite wines.
“He launched the Korbin Kameron label just after I graduated from college,” Korbin Ming added. “I had majored in hospitality at Boston University, a business that is not far removed from the wine industry.
“I started taking some classes in wines and winemaking in order to bond with my father and I soon discovered that I had much of the same passion he shares for wines. The timing was a bit difficult, but we have been steadily increasing our sales to this point.” Korbin Kameron Vineyards’ label has a modernistic theme that is intended to reflect the quality of the wine Ming explained further. “It is all part of the wine experience that should prove pleasurable to everyone involved,” he again added. The final part of the Korbin Kameron wine team is winemaker Bob Pepi of the iconic Napa Valley winemaking family. Pepi brings a world of expertise to the fledgling operation.
“Everyone involved here, from my father to Javier and Bob, and including myself,” Korbin Ming finalized, “we all share a great fervor for our wines and the quality we have been able to achieve. If we continue our success, our future looks quite bright.”
Korbin Kameron Vineyards’ ‘future’ includes a five-year plan that will produce a winery on part of their Mt. Veeder property. It has all been carefully thought out as are most Chinese business plans. Whenever the conditions are right and the most favorable circumstances exist, then construction will immediately begin according to Korbin Ming.
The property contains a number of outstanding and unique views of both valleys and is likely to become a ‘don’t miss’ destination once the building project is completed. Until that time, the Ming Family will continue its efforts to produce exceptional quality wines that continue to win accolades and high marks for their efforts.
It is a great pleasure to be able to bring theses fine wines to your attention through our Platinum Series monthly Wine Club.
A Letter from Mitchell Ming
Dear Platinum Series Members,
My unexpected passion for wine started when I moved to California at the age of sixteen. Wine was a foreign notion to me at the time, but I was seeing it at every dinner and social gathering I attended. The more I tried, the more I love. I decided to go to the source and started making weekend trips to wine country a habit. I remember my first Cabernet Sauvignon I tried at a winery in Napa Valley, its elegance and deep currant concentrations were what really pulled me in. Black currants...a nice surprise. After a few more visits and many glasses later, I told myself that I wanted my own wine and vineyard in the future.
In 1997, my wife and I started to make that dream come true by looking at property in Napa and Sonoma. We took weekend trips with our 3 children for 2 years, touring all the available vineyards. Everything from the ones on 29 and Silverado to the hidden ones on the backroads. The valley floor was a little bland and offered no sense of uniqueness. In 1999, we chanced upon a property on top of Mt. Veeder that straddled the Napa Sonoma County line at an elevation of 2,200 feet. We drove up the mountain for 20 minutes and were a little weary of the destination, but didn’t write it off just yet. We pulled up the heavily forested driveway and a huge expanse of sky and fertile untouched land sat before us. Our jaws dropped and we realized that the breathtaking views and the seclusion were what we were seeking after all this time. We planted 20 acres to the five Bordeaux varietals in 2000 and haven’t looked back.
In 2006, we made our first blend, which we named Cuvee Kristin. It is the ultimate expression of the terroir and the culmination of my lifelong dream. I named the brand after my twins, Korbin and Kameron. Having twins was a pleasant surprise Jenny and I got the night of their birth. Their heartbeats were in sync and on top of one another, so we were only expecting one baby. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the greatest things in life are unexpected surprises, so please enjoy this wine and I hope it is an unexpected surprise for you.