A little over 2 years ago, Sonoma's Kunde Estate decided to open up their mountain top to public wine tastings. Good idea. As if visiting Sonoma wineries wasn't a memorable experience enough, now wine lovers can ascend to one of the highest spots in the valley to taste estate grown wine while overlooking lush rolling hills of greenery. Kunde's property is impressive. With over 1800-acres and a rich history going back over 150 years (say that out loud — 150 years!), the winery complimented their already popular cave visits with a sweeping 1400-foot elevation tasting experience. By scheduling in advance, visitors are greeted at the winery tasting room and taken in a passenger van up the hill through historic vineyards, past the boxing ring used in the movie, Bottle Shock. The experience starts with Kunde's 2010 Sauvignon Blanc in the tasting room. Key word here is "experience". This isn't the kind of thing where you step with pep into the tasting room and get a few free tastes. You're treated to a personal level of service, which is an expectation in today's world of social media relationships.
As visitors get into the tasting experience, it becomes obvious Kunde has worked hard at maintaining reasonably priced estate grown wines. When you can stand on top of a mountain and drink a $20-wine while looking at the vines that wine came from, it's a win for visiting wine lovers.
After Sauvignon Blanc, mountain top visitors will next be treated to one or two of Kunde's estate Chardonnays. The 2010 Kunde Sonoma Chardonnay for $13 will scratch that buttery Chardonnay itch. The word that comes to mind is, "value". Next comes the Kinneybrook Vineyard Chardonnay with lively passion fruit, butterscotch and fortune cookie. Fortune cookie? yeah, fortune cookie...in a good way. And this wine is a "high end" wine that's only $24 bucks.
As we move onto the red wines, mountain-top tasters are reminded of Sonoma Zinfandel. The 2008 Century Vines Zin was a Wine & Spirits "Year's Best Zinfandel & Best Buy" that received 91 points. The cool thing about this wine is it's made from vines planted on the property in 1882. Talk about old vine Zin!
After Zin, we moved onto one of my favorites — the 2008 Kunde Meritage made with traditional Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc. Think of the average price for a bottle of Bordeaux, then taste this wine and think of the value you're getting for $30 bucks. It's a smooth operator that just about anybody (especially people on top of the mountain) can get into.
When you're standing on top of a mountain overlooking Sonoma, time goes by pretty fast. Before you know it, your Kunde host is pouring Cabernet Sauvignon into your glass. This is when you want to freeze time. First up is the 2009 Kunde Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. For $22 it's not hard to enjoy generous ripe flavors of RC cola, dried thyme and black chocolate covered cherries in a glass. At this point of the tasting, it should be apparent the Kunde family is rich in history, and by owning this ridiculous piece of property they've been able to keep their prices reasonable. For me personally, I wish they'd lay off the oak a little but overall the range of wines for the price was impressive.