Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Niner Wine Estates
Niner Estates came to me through an old friend from my days in California, Ken Bryant. Ken, now the National Sales Manager for Niner, is gregarious, friendly and charismatic. You can really see the energy of the room change when he's in it.
We were catching up about 6 months ago, and he told me about his new position at Niner. I'd never heard of Niner before, so Ken sent me a case of samples. As Heather & I tasted through them over the course of a week or so, the wines kept getting better and better. After we finished, I began to get the full story from Ken.
The winery, established in 2001, was based on 2 Estate Vineyards, Bootjack Ranch and Heart Hill, both planted by legendary viticulturist Jim Smoot. The rest of the management team brought tremendous experience capped off with winemaker/consultant, Chuck Ortman. Eventually, they would find a full time winemaker in Amanda Cramer, who has worked at Chimeny Rock, d'Arenberg, Casa Lapastolle, and with the famed Heidi Barrett. Amanda has clearly put her thumbprint on these wines, which are like no other I've had from Paso Robles. The wines has a great richness of texture and each is dark fruit driven. I've tasted stunning examples of unruly varietals like Barbera and Sangiovese as well as Cabernet that tastes like Napa bottlings of twice the price. With a tatsing room scheduled to open in late summer, Niner Estate has all the pieces in place for great success. It's very exciting to add them to our portfolio.