Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Kevin Kelley is a winemaker to watch. In addition to making wine for Lioco and his family winery with wife, Jennifer Kelley, Salinia Wine Company, he also cofounded the Natural Process Alliance (or NPA).
I was lucky enough to be in Sonoma recently and taste the NPA Chardonnay. Made from organic grapes and nothing else. No added sulfites, acids or commercial yeasts.
It was delicious, fresh and had me looking around for more.
But alas, NPA wines are only available within a 100 miles of where they are made in Sonoma. And that is as it should be with natural, young wines.
The difference between drinking NPA Chardonnay and more traditional Chardonnay, is the difference between drinking store bought canned lemonade and making the real thing from scratch at home.
Kevin was gracious enough to answer a few questions below:
Who is the Alliance?
Our name pays respect to the thousands of process that must occur to bring wine into the world. From the microbes in the soil to the people that drink the wine, each member of this alliance is required and equally important. We are just one small part of this process and we listen closely to our composer, nature.
How and why did you become a winemaker?
As an avid reader, I happened across a local history called “Like Modern Edens” by Charles Sullivan in high school. This opened up the world of wine and its long history to me and I was hooked. There are very few things that have marched through time with and have had such a deep impact on civilization. To be a part of that history is exciting and humbling all at the same time.
What prompted you to start the NPA?
Jennifer and I fell in love with Vin en Vrac while we were in France. Being able to visit a local winery and buy wine fresh from the tank was a revelation for us. Surprisingly, this had fallen out of favor long ago in California. We wanted to bring this back and offer fresh young wine that has not gone through all of the rigors of production. In doing so, we are also eliminating the biggest waste stream in the industry, the packaging.
What are your future plans for the NPA? It would be great to see a NPA wine from other regions like Southern California or New York so locals there could taste the NPA goodness.
The NPA is a modest local project with a stated delivery area of within 100 miles of the winery. Currently we are delivering to restaurants and we hope to be selling directly to consumers this fall. We were not the first to do this and most certainly will not be the last. We truly hope that other wineries follow suit and revive this tradition. Please pick up the phone and call your local winery and tell them that you would support this
What has been the response to NPA from the wine trade and wine consumers?
The response has been great! From the conscientious farming and hands off winemaking to the reusable packaging we have been getting glowing reviews. The most important aspect of course is wine quality and the positive response has been overwhelming. These are not your average main stream wines yet the public seems to be embracing them.
What does natural wine mean to you?
The term natural wine in itself is a misnomer and means something different to each individual. We are as hands off as possible with the wines and only gently intervene when it is absolutely necessary. This however does not tell you any specifics about the wines. Because of this, we clearly define what we are doing with the wine day by day. Using Twitter and our web page, we update our followers on any changes that may be occurring. For example, the Pinot Gris was unsulfured until recently when it started down the road of oxidation. When we elected to add a small amount of Sulfur to stop this process, we immediately announced the change on twitter and changed the profile on the web page. Our Chardonnay came from an organically farmed vineyard was fermented on its skins and then placed in neutral French oak with out a single addition. Honest or transparent wine would be a better term; we will let you decide if it is natural wine in your book.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Wow, there are too many to list. Champagne with anything, Beaujolais cru with a killer hand chopped burger, Muscadet with raw oysters.
What makes you happy?
When the sun rises on another day, I am happy.
Posted by Amy Atwood at 7:59 PM