Kynsi Winery: Within Edna Valley


A few weeks ago I took a Central Coast California Road Trip, and spent some time exploring some of my favorite areas of California.

One area I hadn’t explored too much was around Pismo Beach, and since I had explored a lot of the Paso Robles region, it was time to focus a little more south in San Luis Obispo, particularly in the Edna Valley AVA.

The Edna Valley AVA is located just south of the town of San Luis Obispo and North of the town of Arroyo Grande, and about 5.2 miles East of Pismo Beach, California.  Because of the close proximity to the ocean, these breezes help cool the climate down, making the area a great growing region for cool climate wines, exactly why Chardonnay and Pinot Noir excel so well in this region.  The region was originally planted in the early 19th century by Spanish Missionaries, but saw its revival in the 1970’s with the plantings of the Paragon and Chamiscal Vineyards.  The region became it’s own AVA in 1982, formed by the proprietors at Edna Valley Vineyard (The Niven Family.)

My day started off with a tasting at Kynsi Winery:

Kynsi Winery:

2212 Corbett Canyon Road

Kynsi_Winery

Upon first entrance, I knew I was truly going to enjoy my day in Edna Valley.  The small town charm, of California SLO Living was front and center throughout the Edna Valley.  EXACTLY why I love getting out to these smaller, wine regions, that still make incredibly GREAT wine.

I explored the grounds a little bit then walked into the entrance of Kynsi Winery, which felt like a great backyard space, perfect for an afternoon of sipping wine.  The grounds of Kynsi Winery use to be an old Dairy, and some parts of the winery still had that touch including their backyard barn:

Kynsi_Winery-Barn

And the barn, truly, was where part of the tale of Kynsi Winery was born.  When they first purchased the property, there was a major gopher problem, and they soon found out that Barn Owls were their #1 predator.  They eventually installed two perches near the barn, and a nesting pair eventually found their new home, and guess what?  The gophers slowly began to disappear!

And that is why Kynsi Winery (which meals Talon in Finnish) has a Barn Owl as their mascot for their winery, and the barn still sits beautifully on their property.

To get my spring day started I had the option of doing a mixed flight or a flight that focused on just reds.  Since we were just nearing the beginning of summer, I knew a mixed flight was the place to start:

Kynsi-Rose

Kynsi Winery focuses on their Pinot Noirs, so it only made since that they would have a Pinot Noir Rose available just in time for summer.  This Rose retails around 24.00, which is priced right for a Rose. Very refreshing to start with, and perfect for these hot summer days.

After the Rose tasting, I also tried out their 2015 Chardonnay, before diving into their Red Wines, and in particular their Pinot Noirs.

The two wines that really stood out for me during my tasting were these:

Nocturnum

The 2013 Nocturnum: which was a Red Blend of Grenache and Pinot Noir. Definitely a wine you could drink straight from the glass, but a wine that would excel with food. And a wine you could just sit smelling for hours.  Retail value: 39.00

And my absolute favorite was:

The 2013 Pinot Noir from the Bien Nicido Vineyard (out of Santa Maria Valley). This wine really showcases how they excel in producing Pinot Noir wines, the spice and cherry notes really stood out to me in this well balanced Pinot Noir. Retail value: 45.00

It was a great start to my day in Edna Valley,  and a great introduction in seeing how well Pinot Noir excels in this region.

 

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Your Next Hard Cider Destination


Disclosure:  I attended the 2017 Central Coast Cider Festival, but this story goes far beyond that.  

Hard-cider

The Apple.   Innocent enough.   But, for centuries, this idolized fruit, has been creating quite the tasty beverage when fermented. Hard Cider, anyone? In England, 57% of their apple growing goes towards making cider, and is still one of the most popular beverage choices there.

Believe it or not, cider was vastly popular in the early beginnings of America, even a former president drank the tasty beverage (John Adams).  However, when prohibition hit America, cider was kind of tossed to the wayside in America.

But the last few years, craft cider making has HIT, and let me tell you, these craft artisans are creating some delectable ciders. And yes, folks, it’s even Gluten Free!

With that being said, if there’s one destination that needs to be on your Hard Cider List, it’s the Central Coast of California, particularly, Paso Robles.

Bristols-Cider

If there was one proprietor of the cider movement in the Central Coast, one name comes to mind, and that happens to be Neil Collins, winemaker over at Tablas Creek Vineyards, Owner of Bristols Cider along with his sister Jackie and wife Marci. He, along with his sister Jackie, grew up in Bristols, England, where out there, it’s cider country!

When he moved to the area with his family, one thing he noticed right away was the lack of his favorite drink: Cider.  He begin to home brew his own cider from local apples (found around See Canyon and Paso Robles) in 1994 under the Bristols name, and from there, has really laid the foundation for Craft Cider makers throughout the Central Coast.

His Bristols Cider House Taproom officially opened doors in 2014 becoming the first Cider Taproom along the Central Coast.  While inside, you can taste entire Cider Flights, or grab a glass of your favorite cider and just hang out in a fun atmosphere.

See Canyon, an area near San Luis Obispo has quite a few apple farms in the area, and a huge reason why craft cider has taken off in the Central Coast.  Out of the area, some cider makers are really beginning to become known such as:

See Canyon Hard Cider: 

This family based company didn’t have apples on their mind when they first found their family farm, but once they nursed an old apple orchard back to health they found the joy in the fruit, and that’s when their cider making adventure began.

Gopher Glen Apple Farm:

Righteous-Apple

When one owns an apple farm, you’d think that’d automatically transcend to cider making, right?  Well, when it comes to Gopher Glen, that’s exactly what they’re doing now!  Of course, they’ve always had a knack for apples, and fresh cider, so it only made sense to try their hand in hard cider too which they’ve been doing for about 7 years now.

In Paso Robles, Tin City Cider Co. has been getting rave reviews!  Located in the famed “Tin City,” an area of Paso Robles where winemakers, beer makers, and cider makers transcend in one community of warehouses. If you have not been, it needs to be on your must visit list the next time you come to Paso Robles.

Tin-City-Cider

Tin City Cider Co. is the collaboration of 3 winemakers in the Paso Robles Tin City: Curt Schalchlin of San Liege, Mikey Guigne of Scar of the Sea and Andrew Jones of Field Recordings. They opened the taproom this past summer, and has been getting rave reviews ever since.

And while you’re at it be sure to try Mikey’s Scar of the Sea ciders too! Read his inspiring story here.

And of course, there are newcomers to the scene, as well, such as

Jean Marie Cidery:

mamas-boy

They started their business in 2015, and it all began because of a trip to Big Sur, where Connor shared his dream of starting a cider company, and Branden was there to make the dream the reality.

The name for the company came from the combining the middle names of their mothers, and it might make sense as to why one of their ciders is called “Mama’s Boy,” a hard cider with honey.

Cider-Festival

This past weekend, the 2nd Annual Central Coast Cider Festival took place at the Pavilion at Lake Atascadero where 17 Cider Producers throughout California came together to pour their hard ciders for those in attendance.  Many of the cider producers mentioned above were present along with many others including Hemley Cider, Santa Cruz Cider Company, Red Branch Cider Co, Golden State Cider, DreamCote, Meraki, South City Cider Works, Reef Points and more.  It’s a good showcase of how far the Central Coast Cidermakers have come.

And to showcase how Neil Collins laid the foundation for these cidermakers, is the pure fact, that he is the REASON behind the Cider Festival, it was his idea, after all.  The Cider Festival has become an annual event, and it’s truly one of a kind that includes unlimited cider pours during a three hour period along with a PIG ROAST dinner.  Those in attendance were able to purchase their favorite ciders at the event in the cider shop upon exiting the event.

Definitely put it on your calendar for 2018.

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Kukkula Winery, Paying Homage to Finland


Disclosure: I was invited out to Kukkula Winery to talk with Kevin, and explore his wines and vineyards.  This was my experience.

Driving to Kukkula Winery from Downtown Paso Robles was an experience, all in itself.  As I drove through the winding, scenic roads to get there, one last turn, left me with a beautiful hillside view, scenic enough, that I had to stop right there, on the road to take in a photo.

Little did I know, that the “hillside” was the property of Kukkula Winery, and that Kukkula in Finnish meant “high place or hillside.”  It was all beginning to make sense to me.

As I turned into Kukkula, owner and winemaker Kevin Jussila, met me there, and that’s where I learned about his incredible story.

Kevin-Jussila

Kevin Jussila overlooking his Kukkula Property in Paso Robles

His Story:

If you ever had a PASSION or a DREAM, you need to meet Kevin, because he is the guy that understands this completely, but not only that, has the DRIVE to make it happen.

As we walked around his property, we started at the Winery, and in truth, Kevin, built it himself.  The rock that surrounds the outside of the winery was ALL rock found within his property.  He not only built the winery himself, but the house that sits atop the hillside where him and his wife Paula, now reside.

His passion for wine truly began back in 1990, where he resided in Southern California.  In 2003, he took his first trip to Paso Robles with his wife Paula, and they fell in love with the area, especially the Adelaida district of Paso Robles. As he stood on the hillside where his house now resides, Kevin, knew then, where his passion for wine had led him.

Built-With-Love

In 2004, he truly began working on his dream of Kukkula Winery, building the property himself, and laying the land and vineyards.  Since the property resembles a lot of the same characteristics of the Rhone Region of France, these are also the stories his wines tells, focusing on Rhone Varietals such as: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Grenache, Syrah, Roussanne, Mourvedre, Counoise, Petite Sirah, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc.

His Style of Farming:

Dry-Farm

His style is all organically dry-farmed, meaning, that during the winter, his cover crops will grow thick in the winter and early spring.  After the rains, the nutrients from the cover crops will be turned right back into the property.  A lot of the work done in the vineyard is done by hand, which is pretty incredible once you see the hillside!  And a lot of discing and weed-knifing is also used throughout the property.

Mustard-Greens

An example of how the cover crops grow throughout Kukkula Property during the winter months. Mustard Greens.

Fruit is limited in what grows on the property to only 1-2 tons per acre, but this ensures the highest quality of product that this vineyard produces, which is then turned into some truly high quality wines.

His Wines:

KukkulaWines

Kevin pays homage to Finland throughout his winery and with the names of his wines.  His heritage is Finnish, and this is him paying homage to that.   To make it easier on his guests, he uses a different colored wine for each wine he produces, so if they can’t remember the name of the wine they’ve enjoyed, they just have to say the color, and they’ll instantly know what they’re looking for.

His wines are primarily Rhone Varietals with the exception of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, which are varietals Paso is also getting well known for.  Zinfandel was the first grape plantings in the Paso Robles region.

His Rhone Varietals focus on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Roussanne, Coignoise, Petite Sirah, and Grenache Blanc.

Wines to Pay Attention to:

Sisu: Finnish for Patience, Perseverance and Stamina. It is a huge compliment to call someone Sisu in Finland, so Kevin thought this was the perfect name for his GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre.)  This blend is made up of usually half Syrah and equal parts Grenache and Mourvedre therefore creating the GSM blend that is widely known in the Paso Robles area.

noir

Noir: French for dark, black, without light.

This wine is only available to Club members. It is mostly made up of Syrah and blended with Counoise to add more of a lift and elegance to the wine.

Lothario:  Meaning: “seducer, amorously attentive to women”

But in actually, this wine, is named after a good friend of Kevin’s, a friend who helped realize Kevin’s dream, so he thought the least he could do was name a wine after him, so Lothario was born.

It’s made up of a 1/3 of Grenache, Mourvedre and Zinfandel, although recent vintages have deviated a little bit from that configuration.  He likes to coin it as the “Paso Rhone,” substituting the Zinfandel in place of the Syrah.

Aatto: Finnish for “eve.”

This wine pays homage to his father.  A true proponent in Kevin’s dream, unfortunately, his father passed before construction began on the property.  HOWEVER, Kevin has realized, he needed to pay homage to his father.

Kevin says it best below:

“My dad was a dreamer, like me. I guess I got his restless DNA. He was born in Finland in 1932, was essentially orphaned by the time he was 10, jumped on a ship with one of his brothers to Canada in his early 20s, met my mom, had kids, and ultimately moved us to Southern California. The land of opportunity!

Although he realized some of that opportunity, he never quite got a hold of the reins the way he envisioned. He inspired me to realize that dream. I feel totally privileged to be here today, and because of that I give my dad a nod, an acknowledgement that I’m here because of his dreams.”

If you’re drawn to more unique wines, this is the wine I’d suggest for you.  A blend of mostly Counoise and Mourvedre with a bit of Grenache blended in.

New Experience at Kukkula Winery:

Kukkula-Winery

Property of Kukkula Winery

Wine Tasting and Exploring is so much the reason as to why I love wine, but a truly one of a kind of experience is another.

Kevin, along with his wife Paula, have created an one of a kind experience for their guests.  Guests can partake in their “Experience Kukkula events” where you join Kevin on a hike through his hillside property. As you begin the day, you will take in the sweeping views of the property along with feasting on a brunch made by his wife Paula. After you will hike down to the tasting room for a private tasting with Kevin at his tasting room.

Read more about the Experience here.

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