Showing posts with label Kenneth Volk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kenneth Volk. Show all posts

Monday, January 28, 2013

STARS Of Santa Barbara Wine Luncheon 2013

The tenth annual STARS of Santa Barbara event brought the Santa Barbara wine country to Beverly Hills for a show I was pleased to cover.  Look for my notes on all the wines I tasted at the event, coming Friday on Now And Zin Wine.

As a prelude to the event - staged by Ian Blackburn's Learn About Wine organization - I had the good fortune of an invitation to a luncheon which featured eight wines produced by wineries represented at the meal.

The Guests

Mr. Blackburn hosted the affair at the Peninsula Hotel.  I was honored to be at the table with some notable wine industry folks and media people.  Karen Steinwachs (Buttonwood Winery,) Clarissa Nagy (Riverbench Winery,) Kenneth Volk (Kenneth Volk Winery) and Tim Snider (Fess Parker Winery) were there from the production end.  Sommeliers Dana Farner (CUT) and Jeffrey Stivers (N-Naka) joined Bottlerock co-owner Fred Hakim from the retail end.  The press side of the table was filled by Corie Brown (,) Eve Bushman (,) Arianna Armstrong (,) Barbara Hansen (,) Tom Leykis (The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis,) Gary Zabransky (Tom’s producer,) Jonathan Cristaldi (,) and myself. Michelle McCue (McCue Communications) was the sole public relations specialist.

The Menu

Simple and delicious:

Mixed baby lettuces with toasted walnut goat cheese and sweet red onion vinaigrette.
Chicken breast with mascarpone polenta, tomatoes, sweet corn and chicken jus.
Beef tenderloin with potato purée, Bloomsdale spinach, asparagus and red wine.
Assorted breads with sweet butter.
Cheese plate.

The Conversation

Dana Farner commented that she oversees the wine at a steakhouse in Beverly Hills, but it was still surprising that she sells 93% red and only 7% white wines.  She related the story of a male customer - at a table of men - who asked her, “Would you still respect is if we started with white wine?"  The consensus answer around our table was, "probably more."

Jeffrey Stivers of N-Naka said his experience is almost the opposite of Farner's - he moves mostly white wines, due to the restaurant’s Japanese cuisine.

Buttonwood winemaker Karen Steinwachs (right, with Kenneth Volk) got a discussion started on politics.  She observed that “the US government does nothing to help people who make alcoholic beverages, while other governments around the world help their winemakers.”  The wine industry folks were in favor of a little help from Washington, if only to make it easier to put a label on a bottle.  She figures, “"If we all drank more wine, we'd have world peace."  Couldn’t like it more.

Steinwachs also commented that “80% of grapes grown in Santa Barbara County go to wineries not located in Santa Barbara County.”  The fruit, she notes, is of such high quality that everyone wants to use it.  And, seemingly, they do.

Kenneth Volk held court for several topics, but he naturally elaborated at length on the grapes he loves.  Volk is a very well-educated man - Cal Poly SLO - and if you ever want to learn something about wine, find him and stand next to him for a while.  He’s a walking class credit in oenology.  He pointed out that someone once said “Ken never met a grape he didn’t like,” then admitted that he likes some grapes better than others.  He did five delightful minutes on what constitutes a heritage variety before someone grabbed the wheel and drove the show onward.

The Wines

The luncheon featured an eight-sample tasting of wines by producers who were present at at the meal.  Prices given are suggested retail.

1)  Buttonwood Zingy 2012 Sauvignon Blanc  $20
Steinwachs told us this one was bottled just two days before.  It’s actually Sauvignon Musquée, and just under 300 cases were made.  "We're probably known more for our peaches than our wine," she said, with an aside about the Buttonwood "Peach Nazi" who oversees their stone fruit.  Seems nobody can get a sample from him.  The wine is very aromatic, with peaches and chewing gum on the nose.  Stivers pinned it down, calling it a Juicy Fruit note, and I'll be darned if he wasn't right.  There’s a green edge to the tropical fruit on the palate. Great acidity made it a natural pairing with the salad.

2)  Epiphany Grenache Blanc 2011  $25
Tim Snider (left) said the Epiphany brand was started as an outlet for (Fess Parker winemaker) Eli Parker's desire to do artisanal wines.  Fermented in 80% steel and 20% old French oak, from gravelly loam, the wine displays an aromatic nose - savory and nutty with a hint of band aid.  Light in the mouth, savory fruit and minerals are joined by a nice acidity.  Bright and fresh.

3)  Kenneth Volk Albariño 2011  $24
Albariño grapes from the Riverbench Vineyard were the first of that variety grown in the Santa Maria Valley, according to Volk.  The nose is very aromatic with fruity flowers, while the palate shows a beautiful acidity and savory, nutty fruit.  Volk is drawn to unconventional grape varieties like a moth to a porch light.  He revealed that he is making a Touriga Nacional, dry, among a boatload of other "forgotten grapes."

4)  Riverbench Chardonnay 2010   $26
Fermented in the barrel, with 11 months of oak aging, This Chardonnay is made from clones 4 and 15, if you're scoring at home.  The nose is full and sweet, and there’s plenty of oak on the palate, too. Flavors of baked apples ride on a nice acidity, but it’s still creamy in the mouth.

5)  Kenneth Volk Pinot Noir 2009  $30.
A blend of grapes from three vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley, this one has a beautiful floral nose with minerals and cola poking forward, and fabulous acidity.  Commenting on the notion of whole-cluster pressing, Volk said, "I don't like stemminess."

6)  Riverbench Pinot Noir Mesa 2010  $48.
This wine is darker on nose and palate than the Volk Pinot.  Winemaker Clarissa Nagy said "I think it's the clay, but it may be the age of the vines."  Lovely black velvet on the palate, great with feta cheese.

7)  Buttonwood Cabernet Franc 2009  $26.
Steinwachs calls Cabernet Franc "The Pinot Noir of the Bordeaux family.  It's the fussiest, most finicky grape to grow, and once it's in the winery, it's even more demanding."  Blackburn cited the old-world style of this Santa Ynez Valley wine,  showing a floral, cherry candy nose and black cherry’s dark side on the palate.  Nice acidity.

8)  Epiphany Revelation 2009  $40
A Rhone blend drawn from Santa Barbara County vineyards, Snider says this is Epiphany’s most popular wine.  The Grenache/Syrah mix spent nearly two years in oak.  The nose has big black cherry fruit with a brambly feel.  In the mouth, fabulous acid and great, big flavors of cherry, black tea and minerals.  With all that at work, it still has a creamy mouthfeel.

Snider talked about the resurgence of Syrah.  When he said "Syrah is growing in the northeast," all the media types went for their notebooks.  Eve Bushman (right) went for the social media.  Snider quickly clarified that it was Fess Parker’s sales of Syrah that are growing in the northeast.  Relief all around.

After the luncheon, we headed into the banquet room to taste more of Santa Barbara’s bounty.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Pinot Days 2012

It was a nice, spring-like day in Santa Monica - even though it was January 28, 2012 - and Pinot Days made another landing at Santa Monica Airport's Barker Hangar.

Producers of Pinot Noir wines - largely from California, although a few Oregon wineries were also in attendance - set up shop and poured their product for Southern California with great gusto.  If you didn't make it out for the event, you really should plan on doing so next year.  

There are so many different styles of Pinot represented, it's a great way to expand your palate and get a glimpse of some of the different ways the grape can be expressed.

Kenneth Volk and shirt du jourKenneth Volk (at right), head grape geek at Kenneth Volk Vineyards, wowed the crowd with his 2009 Enz Vineyard Pinot Noir.  The grapes for this behemoth come from Lime Kiln Valley - a Gavilin Mountain region Volk leases and has worked with for 13 vintages.  “It’s my monopole,” Volk declared, describing the extent of his involvement in that region.  “The area was first planted when California was still under the Spanish flag," Volk said in the way of a history lesson.  "My Pinot comes from a vineyard planted in 1895.  I planted it to Pinot Noir in ‘96.”  The wine is hugely aromatic, with mocha and flowers on nose.  Big red fruit dominates the taste and a massive acidity can best be described as bracing.  For those wishing a not-so-humongous Pinot, Volk's 2009 Bien Nacido Vineyard from the Santa Maria Valley shows a great fruity nose, juicy taste , and minty tea on the finish.

Dierberg Vineyards was ably respresented by Kevin Gallagher, who showed me some pictures of their winery facility in Happy Canyon.  It's a real showcase, although it's not open to public.  The green barn tasting room between Buellton and Lompoc is all most visitors know.  "In the tasting room, we used to have pictures of the winery on the walls," said Gallagher.  "People would see them and say 'we wanna go there.'  We took the pictures down."  I guess they don't want anybody bothering winemaker Andy Alda while he works his magic in his palatial surroundings.  Gallagher referred to the 2009 Three Saints as the "little brother," and the 2009 Dierberg Vineyard Pinot as the "big brother."  Both hail from the Santa Ynez Valley, the former showing red fruit and the latter exhibiting black cherry.

Stewart Johnson's Kendric Vineyards is located in San Anselmo, California in Northern Marin County.  You may not have heard of any vineyards there, and Johnson says, "That's because the good growing locations are few and far between.  I had to dig a zillion holes to find the right soil."  I'd say he found it.  Johnson poured a fascinating vertical of his Pinot Noir vintages from 2004 to 2009.  '08 and '09 are very aromatic, while '04 and '05 are showing an intriguing eucalyptus note.  All six vintages show great minerals.

crowd at Pinot Days 2012La Fenêtre's tireless winemaker Joshua Klapper was a very familiar face for some of us.  I had just seen him two days earlier at another tasting event.  Thankfully he hadn't tired of me.  The La Fenêtre 2009 Le Bon Climat Vineyard Pinot has an expressive bouquet with a slightly 
tart flavor and a big black tea finish.  Klapper thought there might have been sediment in the bottom of the bottle from which he poured my taste, and he asked how I liked it.  "Not too gritty, is it?".  It wasn't.  I have the feeling if Klapper made a gritty wine, the wine would somehow be better for it. 

A lesson on how consumers are swayed by wine scores awared by critics was something I didn't need, but I saw it for myself during a palate-cleansing break.  A patron toting his wine glass and looking for the next wine to sample spied a sign at one table touting a critic's score.  The gentleman uttered a monotone "ninety-five point Pinot Noir..." as he was drawn - as if by gravity - toward the Sojourn Cellars table.  Spellbound, he sipped and nodded in approval.

Presqu'ile Winery's South African winemaker Dieter Cronje offered a Rosé of Pinot Noir made in the saignée method, in which the juice is bled off from the skins with the intention of making a pink wine.  His '09 rosé displays tons of fruit aromas and flavors.  Cronje suggested it as the perfect wine to sip while  "sitting on a patio, looking at a beach and enjoying the afternoon."  Presqu'ile's 2009 Estate Pinot Noir is bright with acidity and quite herbal, due to the whole cluster pressing of the grapes.  It has a very Old World feel, with manageable tannins and restrained alcohol.

Pinot Days 2012 Oregon sectionThe Oregon section of the hangar was quite busy.  The crowding around these tables indicated there was a lot of interest in Oregon Pinot.  
Napa vintner Craig Camp poured hisCornerstone Cellars Oregon Pinot, the product of his partnership with winemaker Tony Rynders.  Their 2009 Willamette Valley shows beautiful sour cherry flavor with tea on the very long finish.  

Sokol Blosser Winery crossed the state line with their 2009 Dundee Hills Pinot, which is light with fresh, red fruit, great acidity and black tea on the finish.

Pali Wine Company makes wine near the airport on the west side of Lompoc, California.  They do produce an Oregon Pinot, though.  The 2010 "Alphabets" from the Willamette Valley shows some very herbal black tea notes.

Pali's Calirfornia efforts were just as good.  The 2009 Cargasacchi Vineyard has dark fruit, spices and traces of coffee.  The 2009 Fiddlestix Vineyard, from the Sta. Rita Hills, has beautiful blackberry, tons of acidity and minerals.

Santa Barbara County's Tantara Winery has a pinot that really floored me. The 2008 Solomon Hills has massive aromas of chocolate, an herbal palate with very dark fruit and spice and a cola finish.  Their 2009 Sta. Rita Hills Rio Vista Vineyard is all about dark fruit and tannins.

The Malibu Vineyard features the work of winemakers Bruno d'Alfonso and Kris Curran.  Their 2008 Rambla Pacifico is aromatic with flavors of plum.

The Zotovich Cellars table was manned by winemaker Ryan Zotovich, although when I stopped by owner/dad Steve was pouring the 2009 Reserve Zotovich Family Estate Vineyard showing brilliant acidity and bright cherries.

There wasn't much Paso Robles Pinot present, but Glen Hartigan of Hartigan Cellarsmanaged to bring some.  Hartigan told me, "I've made wine for 20 years but this is the first time I've done it commercially."  His west side Paso 2009 Hastings Ranch has a lovely expression of 
mocha on the nose and an all-red-fruit palate.  As you might expect from Paso Robles, there was plenty of acidity and forceful tannins.

Alma Rosa's 2008 Sta. Rita Hills is pure cherry with a lovely tartness on the finish.  Their 2009 La Encantada offers black cherry and tea in a much more complex palate.

The Vin Village table had Rob Barnett pouring the 2008 Lucas & Lewelen Santa Barbara County, full of red fruit and minerals.  The 2009 Goodchild High 9 Vineyard was wonderfully dark, with coffee notes.  The Witch Creek Winery Clarksburg Pinot is an easy drinker with black tea notes.

Olivia Brion Winery, at 1200 feet in the Vaca Mountain Range east of Napa Valley, occupies one of the coolest growing regions in the area.  Winemaker David Mahaffey spoke of the '09, '10 and '11 vintages as a "mini ice age."  The 2009 Wild Horse Valley Vineyard is bright and floral, but "not ready yet," according to Mahaffey.  "Needs another month or so," he said.

Ancient Oaks in Sonoma County was hoping to find a SoCal rep during their visit.  The 2008 Russian River Valley delivers a very big fruit expression, while the 2009 Siebert Ranch Estate Pinot has gobs of dark fruit and a big tea finish.  You get fantastic acidity in both, at $25 and $32 respectively.

Bien Nacido Vineyards poured the 2008 Solomon Hills, from the sandy soil of the westernmost vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley.  The 2008 Bien Nacido displayed that vineyard's limestone and shale with big minerals.  I could really taste the rocks. 

Fritz Winery produces in Cloverdale.  The big, bright cherry of the Jenner 2010 Sonoma Coast contrasted with the dark minerals, plums and anise in the 2009 Lost Canyon Goff-Whitton Vineyard Pinot.

Ken Brown made the trip from Solvang with his 2008 Sta. Rita Hills, which shows  beautiful tart candy, and the 2010 Santa Maria Valley Garey vineyard and its giant note of black tea. 

Loring Wine Company showed their 2010 Clos Pepe Vineyard, dominated by a smoky cherry flavor and raspberry finish. 

Friday, March 4, 2011


Paso Robles at Vibiana

Paso Robles is a great wine producing region, vastly underrated by many.  Winemakers in the California Central Coast AVA have great fruit and terroir to work with, and they make the most of it.

A group of Paso Robles winemakers brought their wares to Los Angeles on March 2, 2011.  The tasting event was held in Vibiana, a downtown church turned event venue.  Tasting heavenly wines in a former church seemed appropriate, I confess.  I prayed for a great wine tasting experience and, Lo! - one was delivered.  The miracle of turning grapes into wine was displayed at table after table.

Grape Geeks

Ken VolkWhen there's a big roomful of winemakers present, you're going to hear a lot about grapes.   You're going to hear very deep discussions about grapes.  You're going to find out how much you don't know about grapes.  I had the chance to listen to Ken Volk talk about grapes at length with someone who appeared to be trying to dislodge Volk as the biggest grape geek in the room.  Note to others: that's a game you won't win.  Volk gave an impromptu botany lesson, ranging from DNA to grape origins to the genetic offspring of Muscat Alexandria.  I was transfixed until the pourer looked at me and cocked his head toward Volk, saying "He can get geeky."  2010 was Volk's 34th vintage, so he has earned the right to be as geeky he wants to be.


When tasting wines at events like this one, I often ask about the alcohol content of the wine I'm tasting.  Most of the time the responses are not too unusual, but with nothing but Paso Robles wine in the room, I kept getting answers in the 15 to 16% range.  That's a fairly high alcohol reading, but I was told why that seems to be the norm for wines from Paso.

"It's the weather," explained Eric Ogorsolka of Zenaida Cellars.  He went on to extol the virtues of the climate in Paso Robles: the warm days, cool nights and 40-50 degree temperature swings between night and day during the growing season.  The area's grape growers can typically wait longer to harvest than anywhere in California, thus giving winemakers fruit that's as ripe as can be.

Vibiana interiorOgorsolka boasted that his wines nearly all fall between 15 and 16% abv.  Truly, that big bold wine is one of Paso's calling cards - and big, bold wines are okay in my book.  Many people feel that such high alcohol levels are not food friendly.  Some complain that wines like Pinot Noir simply aren't varietally correct in that rarefied air.  There are also voices out there who maintain that high alcohol wine is flawed wine.

I can certainly appreciate a fine and delicate offering that fails to hit 13%, but I can also appreciate aroma and flavor that's as big as America, even if it means the wine is creeping close to Port-level alcohol.  There's room in this big world for everyone to have it their way.   This is how they roll in Paso Robles.

Favorite Tastes

Ancient Peaks Winery 
Sauvignon Blanc 2010:  Grassy and fresh, with great acid on the finish. $12
Oyster Ridge 2007:  Cabernet Sauvignon/Petite Sirah/Merlot/Petit Verdot blend is brambly with flavors of blackberry and meat.  $50

Eberle Winery
Mill Road Vineyard Viognier 2009:  Huge floral play with great acidity.  $21
Steinbeck Vineyard Syrah 2008:  Earthy and dirty, very old world.  $20

Kenneth Volk Vineyards
Pomar Junction Vineyard Verdelho 2008:  Mix of flowers and citrus with great acidity.  $24
Pomar Junction Vineyard Aglianico 2007:  Dark, dusty fruit with a lasting finish.  $36

Kiamie Wine Cellars
R'Own 2006:  Rustic mix of Syrah/Grenache/Viognier with a splash of Zinfandel.  $38

Le Vigne Winery
Kiara Reserve Sangiovese 2007:  Bright cherry candy nose, earthy palate.  $20
Le Vigne di Domenico Cabernet Franc 2006:  Dark nose full of earth with mineral laden fruit.  $30

Lone Madrone
La Mezcla 2008:  Extremely refreshing white, with lime and other citrus and great minerality.  $22
Points West Red 2007:  Syrah/Mourvèdre blend displaying a big, juicy nose and a dark palate.  Grippy, big wine.  $28

Niner Wine Estates
Sangiovese 2007:  Beautiful, cherry nose.  Dark and dry.  $24
Twisted Spur Paso Robles Red 2007:  Big, rustic blend of Merlot/Cab Franc/Syrah/Petite Sirah.  $28

Ortman Family Vineyards
Sangiovese 2008:  From the O2 line.  Big, brawny take on the Italian grape.  $20
Wittstrom Vineyard Petite Sirah 2007:  Intense nose and palate with big tannins.  "Light" at just 14.2% abv.  $36

Pomar Junction Vineyard and Winery
Estate Viognier 2009:  Nose of oranges and flowers, very fruity with great acidity.  $25
Espiritu Chardonnay 2009:  Very light touch of oaky vanilla with mouth-watering acidity.  $25

Roxo Port Cellars
Paso Melange 2007:  Extremely concentrated Cabernet Franc flavors from Port-style-only producer.  $44
Ruby Tradicional 2007:  Portuguese varieties, Paso-grown.  Coffee and chocolate notes.  $44

Terry Hoage Vineyards
The Gap 2009:  Invigorating white with nutty citrus.  Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Picpoul Blanc.  $38
The Pick 2008:  Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Counoise.  Dark cherry with tons of earth.  $48

Vina Robles
WHITE4 2009:  Vermentino, Verdelho, Viognier, Sauvigon Blanc.  Didn't remind me of Sardinia, but lots to like with citrus and minerality.  $16
RED4 2008:  Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre.  Earthy on nose and palate; brooding and peppery.  $16

Zenaida Cellars
Estate Zinfandel 2008:  Very fresh and vibrant.  A different slant on Zinfandel.  $27
Wanderlust 2008:  Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre.  A brooding, old world style Rhone blend.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The barrell room at Volk

When I dropped in at the Kenneth Volk Vineyards tasting room, I was met by two busloads of people who looked like escapees from a school for rodeo clowns.  Their manner of dress appeared to be specifically designed to get attention, and it worked.  The buses they arrived in were whitewashed school buses, so there was no indication as to their point of origin.  I was relieved to find the noisy bunch was egressing as I arrived, and their visit appeared to have left the tasting room crew wide-eyed and breathless.  I think they were glad the attention could now be focused on the nice, quiet wine writer.  I'm sure I looked a lot more manageable than they did.


Ken Volk founded Paso Robles' Wild Horse Winery and jumped at the chance to open his namesake winery in the Santa Maria Valley.  The winery and tasting room are located among the vineyards at the northern end of the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, which runs from Los Olivos to Santa Maria.  Volk produces wines utilizing Burgundy and Bordeaux grape varieties, and he also has a penchant for the odd, forgotten or under-appreciated grape.  So do I, so I was particularly interested in finding out about what Volk calls his "heirloom" wines.

Missed Connections

There were two disappointments on my visit to the Volk Santa Maria tasting room this day.  First, the winemaker was at his other tasting room, in Paso Robles.  Second, two of his heirloom wines - which are to be released soon - are "not quite ready," as the tasting room crew told me.  They also told me that had Volk been present, he would most surely have poured me a sample of both the Touriga National and Alicante that are in the works.  I will patiently await my opportunity to try them.

A New Friend

Happily, there were plenty of wines I could taste.  The red wines were being poured in the barrel room, but I began with the whites, which were being poured outside in the "backyard."  Jerrett, my pourer, was quite affable.  Denise was with me, and we encountered Jarrett separately.  When we were leaving, she asked me, "So how long have you known Jerrett?"  Perplexed, I told her I had just met him.  She explained that he had so many good things to say about me, she just assumed we were friends.  Well, now I guess we are.

As Jerrett introduced me to the Volk whites - all the while regaling me with the story of his involvement with Ken's company - I imagined that he must have gotten along nicely with the busloads of rodeo clowns that had just departed.  He probably gets along well with everyone.  He's that kind of guy.

Wine Tasting, The Whites

It was a perfect, sunny day for sampling some chilled white wines in the great outdoors.  I started with one of Volk's heirloom wines, the Malvasia Bianca 2008.  The fruit is from the San Bernabe vineyard in Monterey County.  It's an off-dry wine with a lot of character, smelling and tasting of lychee and flowers.  The '08 Verdelho was next.  Verdelho is a grape from the Portuguese island of Madeira.  The fruit for this wine comes from the El Pomar Junction vineyard in the Paso Robles AVA.  The wine is big in the mouth, displaying a tropical feel both on the nose and palate.  The citrus flavors turned into guava at mid-palate in a very interesting transformation.  The '07 Viognier also sports a guava profile, as well an interesting green apple flavor that is right up front.  Santa Maria Valley grapes are used for the Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay 2006.  This wine has a very pungent nose that shows the influence of the wood dramatically and layers spicy notes - notably nutmeg - on top of the tropical flavors.

Wine Tasting, The Reds

Gary was pouring the red wines in Volk's big, cool barrel room.  I saw four wines on the list which immediately grabbed my interest.  The tiny grapes used in the '08 Negrette come from the Caleri vineyard near Hollister in San Benito County.  Brambly blackberry on the nose shows plenty of complexity on the palate, as the fruit joins up with leather, anise and earth in what the winemaker describes as "Syrah meets Pinot."  Volk's '05 Cabernet Franc is produced from Paso Robles fruit and shows a perfumy lavender nose along with a very nice earthiness.  It's a big, full mouthfull of plums.  The '05 Tempranillo from Starr Ranch vineyard in Paso Robles has a bright nose with a taste that makes me think of the old west, full of licorice and sagebrush.  The '04 Claret is a blend of 39% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Sauvignon.  At once it is juicy, plummy, dry and grippy with a bit of medicine bottle on the nose.

A Lot Left On The Table

There were about ten wines I didn't taste including three Pinot Noirs, a Zinfandel, a Syrah and a Petite Sirah which got compliments from several others while I was tasting.  By the way, the grounds at Kenneth Volk are perfectly suited for a picnic.  There are a couple of tables in a beautiful garden setting in front and some picnic tables in the backyard that would be suitable for a group.  Just call and make sure the rodeo clowns aren't scheduled there, too.