“Each wine must be an expression of the land while offering
a rare convergence of quality, character and value.”
Long before launching Kent Price Wines in 2009 both Kent and winemaker Rudy Zuidema decided to make Napa Valley the centerpiece of their endeavor. Finding the ideal property was the first step given their shared realization that "every choice in the vineyard is ultimately a winemaking decision shaping the character and quality of the wines."
And so the quest began. The search extended to all areas of the Valley in an effort to find that special vineyard source and grower committed to helping achieve the level of quality and expression so necessary in the world of great wines. From the Valley floor north to south and the mountains to the east and west the pursuit continued.
Kent and Rudy worked diligently to select vineyard sites exhibiting ideal soil composition, row direction, clonal selection and exposure. The search then intensified to find the right growers to share in a collaborative approach to achieve the highest quality fruit from precise farming methodology.
Rudy's entire winemaking career has been focused on the vineyard and properly shepherding its distinct character through the winery and into the bottle. He has mastered innovative fermentation and barrel aging techniques involving a variety of fermentation vessels and unique barrel regimens to bring out layers of character and complexity rarely seen in even the most highly praised wines.
All that happens throughout the growing season culminates at harvest where Rudy's decisions are based on decades of viticultural and winemaking experience combined with his instinct and technical assessment. “While we look at all the factors, the final decisions are based on taste and my history in the vineyard. We’re looking for those physiological indicators: the texture of the skins, brown seeds that crack in your mouth, amber color in the fruit and a hint of nuttiness that are more important than pre-set pH, acid or Brix levels.” And within these parameters, Rudy often picks over several days allowing individual sensory expressions to develop in different vineyard blocks.
For our reds Rudy uses a combination of native and cultured yeasts for fermentation in open top oak barrels with hand punch-downs (as he says, "I Love Lucy style") along with covered fermentation in various sized bins. Fermentation finishes in stainless steel tanks when the Brix level drops and the process is winding down. For our white wine Rudy chooses a blend of neutral barrels and stainless steel to maintain the freshness, texture and delicate balance so evident in the finest southern Rhone whites.
After fermentation is complete the Cabernet is kept separate by vineyard block and transferred to neutral barrels for the aging process to begin while preserving the grape's native qualities. "At this stage I liken them to kids. Some want to dance, others want to play soccer. You need to see what they want before you guide them on a path."
After a few months in neutral oak the Cabernet is transferred to a mix of new, second use and neutral French oak barrels from selected coopers. During the aging process each lot receives individual attention and is rotated between the new and used oak enhancing its own personality without excessive oak influence while Rudy ascertains where they will fit into the final blend.
Rudy's multifaceted skills have been honed over his twenty-five plus years in the vineyard and winery. His mastery in the vineyard and non-interventionist style of winemaking enables him to produce wines of elegance, structure and depth speaking of the vineyard and vintage in the Kent Price stylistic model.