Kinsella Estates

Country/Region: United States - California - Dry Creek Valley - Sonoma County

kinsella logoFrom a high, sun-drenched private valley in the western foothills of Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley comes an exquisite cabernet sauvignon hand crafted with the ultimate expertise and care by legendary winemaker, Thomas Rivers Brown.

Kinsella Estates is an organically farmed vineyard situated in a private valley in the foothills of the western edge of Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Elevated 500 feet above the Russian River, the valley enjoys a warm climate that virtually never sees winter frost. The hills even harbor occasional citrus trees. The East-West running valley is planted with 12 acres of cabernet sauvignon vines on the steep eastern hillsides composed of loamy, metamorphic soil. The valley drains a large watershed where a winter stream rapidly fills up Spencer Lake which provides irrigation water in summer.

Date Founded: 2007
Owner: Kevin J. Kinsella
Winery Philosophy: To create an exquisite cabernet sauvignon from Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley

Before buying a vineyard and creating a wine in Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley, Kevin Kinsella had established himself as a successful entrepreneur with diverse business interests. Kinsella is founder of the private venture capital fund, Avalon Ventures, which funded the first big data company, multiple billion dollar pharmaceutical companies, the first touch screen for the Apple iPhone, the first mega social gaming company and the radically new stealth vessel for the Navy SEALS. Avalon has developed more than 120 different companies. As a consultant to the Peruvian government, Kinsella developed the first international marketing plan for the remarkable Andean grain, quinoa. Kinsella is also a Tony Award winner and largest private investor in the Broadway hit Jersey Boys. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
When Kinsella purchased a 12-acre vineyard in the foothills of the western edge of Dry Creek Valley in 2007, his business instincts took over. "Part of the philosophy of venture capital is to go with the best people you can," explains Kinsella, who hired talented winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown.
Kinsella quickly set his sights on making the best-tasting Cabernet from Dry Creek, an area better known for Zinfandel. And success has come swiftly - his very first vintage, the 2008, scored 95 points at Wine Spectator.
Kinsella says the terroir of his hillside vineyard is key to quality, based partly on the good drainage patterns its soils provide, which helps avoid the green notes that grapes grown on the valley floor can show. There are no plans to branch out or grow beyond what the vineyard has to offer. "Buying grapes to supplement a label would be considered absurd in Burgundy or Bordeaux," he says. Instead, he wants the Kinsella story to be about a single estate. "I have no need for other varietals," Kinsella says. "No need to amp up production. I'd be very happy just to do this perfectly."

Winery Acreage: 12
Winery Production: 2000 / 9L cases
Varietals Produced: Cabernet Sauvignon (11.17 acres planted)
Zinfandel (0.83 acres planted)
Winemaker: Thomas Rivers Brown

The Kinsella Estates vineyard is composed of three blocs: The Heirloom Vineyard, a steep-sloping two acre, 17 year old parcel, wedged in between an arroyo and a knoll of Spanish oaks; the six acre Jersey Boys Vineyard and the four acre roadside Spencer Vineyard. The arroyo that runs between Jersey Boys and Spencer vineyards feeds the lake. In the summer of 2008, the latter two blocs were ripped out and replanted with four different clones of cabernet sauvignon, handpicked by our winemaker, Thomas Rivers Brown. Also, two thirds of an acre of Wente clone zinfandel was planted, as well as eight rows of petit verdot. All Kinsella Estates wines are produced from organically grown grapes, grown without pesticides or herbicides.
Apart from the 12 acres of vines and the lake, the 75 acre Kinsella Estates property is heavily wooded with Spanish oaks (festooned with Spanish moss) which give way to Giant Coastal Redwoods and Sequoias as one migrates toward the north side of our hill. We have plenty of diverse fauna: gray squirrel, raccoon, skunk, wild pig, bobcat, gray fox, possum, coyote, deer and the occasional rarely seen cougar. Underfoot we have gopher, two species (Western Diamondback and Timber) of rattlesnake, black racers and gopher snakes. In the sky, turkey buzzard, raven, red-tailed hawk, barn owl and an occasional golden eagle.

The wines let the fruit speak for itself - an expression of the terroir, the exceptional clones and the seasonal variation of sun and water in their vineyard. Kinsella Estates wines showcase beautiful expressions of the vineyard blocks from which they are made. Characteristics of the wines include expressive floral and dried herb aromas combined with bright fruit flavors and seductively smooth tannins.

The wines have been highly rated and received praise from Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate alike. James Laube says, "a gorgeous wine that delivers a pure, rich dark berry mix of flavors, with blackberry and mocha at the core. Full bodied, yet graceful and balanced."

As Kinsella Estates approaches the release of its fifth cabernet sauvignon vintage, the bond of friendship among their winemaker, vineyard manager, viticulturalist, ranch hand, the land, the water and the sun now extends to their customers, who by buying and enjoying the wine – their passion – have joined that circle of friendship, a relationship noted on their label as built “Su Una Stretta di Mano,” on a handshake. It’s a line from Jersey Boys and it is the way they always do business.

  • Kinsella Estates according to Antonio Galloni - VINOUS

    "vinous logo 250Kevin Kinsella's Dry Creek Cabernets keep getting better and better as Kinsella and his winemaker, Thomas River Brown, hone in on the unique attributes of these sites. Kinsella has participated in a number of ventures, including the hugely successful musical Jersey Boys. In 2013, Kinsella introduces a third Cabernet, Spencer, while a new Zinfandel makes its debut with the 2012 vintage. The wines are rich and textured, yet show plenty of Dry Creek grip and savoriness. - Antonio Galloni."

    - Antonio Galloni's Vinous (January 2015)