KAREN HUNT – PARNER, HUNT MCKAY – NEWEST PROJECT, KADIEM CELLARS
It takes almost four years to develop a Napa Valley Cabernet from grapes in the vineyard to wine ready to sell. After finding the right vineyard for our grapes, in addition to numerous lunches, dinners and cups of coffee, we work together on both the actual making of the wine and the operational fundamentals that go into running a business: Of primary importance is managing our growing customer list. We spend hours designing, choosing and ordering all the packaging elements for each vintage. We walk the vineyards, harvest the grapes, purchase and check all the barrels. In the background we update and renew all the required permits and licenses, maintain our website and pack and ship orders. The milestones of accomplishment and progress are compelling. KaDieM Cellars continues to be a labor of passion fueled by friendship, lots of hard work and ultimately a product that we are all so proud to be able to share with you.
We launched our brand as KaDieM, the phonetic spelling of our initials pronounced KDM. Our logo, three wine glasses entwined, is a symbol of our friendship, the celebration of our families and a toast to our passionate endeavor to create remarkable wines from the Napa Valley.
After two highly rated and sold out vintages, we gained some unwanted attention from a very large, low end wine producer on the East Coast threatened by our success. With the foundation of our partnership focused on friendship, family and brilliant winemaking, the choice to change our brand KaDieM or face years fighting of litigation and expense was an easy one for us to make.
With our 2011 vintage, we are so excited to launch Hunt McKay, the combination of Karen and Danna's last names, Hunt McKay is the same great wine, made by our partner and winemaker Michael Trujillo from the same Morisoli Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon grapes under the exact standards upon which KaDieM Cellars was founded. You'll find the label, 3 entwined wine glasses and of course the wine to be exactly what you experienced under the 2009 and 2010 KaDieM label.
Hunt McKay Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet from the Morisoli Vineyards in the Rutherford Bench appellation of Napa Valley. Family owned and managed for over 100 years, this 53 acre vineyard consistently produces fruit exhibiting ‘Rutherford Dust’ characteristics. This ‘Dust’ is the terroir or soil of the Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley, and has come to reflect an enduring commitment to quality and ecologic harmony. Wines from this central area of the Napa Valley are recognized worldwide as some of the finest wines ever made in California.
At the age of 6, Karen Hunt discovered her selling passion with her lunch money, a few Tootsie Roll Pops and willing customers in her classmates from elementary school.
Karen wanted a pair of red lace up Buster Brown shoes to better fit in with her first grade classmates, but felt badly asking her Dad for new shoes when she saw that he had a hole in the sole of his shoe where he put a dry piece of cardboard every morning. So she used her $0.25 lunch money to buy 12 Tootsie Pops, each costing 2 cents plus 1 cent for tax. She sold them to her classmates for a nickel. The next day, she took the $0.60 from the previous day’s sales plus her $0.25 lunch money and bought more Tootsie Pops, again buying them for 2 cents and selling them for a nickel. She continued this with her lunch money and her profits, day after day.
Within days she had worked her way into taking orders for specific candy that would fill special requests from the children at school. Although she was called to the principal’s office three times and asked to stop selling her lollipops on school property, Karen continued the Tootsie Pop caper until she had $60 – and then a new pair of shoes for her Dad and the red lace up Buster Brown’s for herself. This focused persistence is the defining characteristic of Karen’s career in sales management.
Selling has been the cornerstone of Karen’s more than twenty year career. Since graduating from college in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, Karen has traveled across the U.S. and Europe selling everything from M&M’s and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, to coffee. Following her passion, Karen moved to the Napa Valley in 2000, without a job in the wine industry but determined to find one so she could work and live her dream.
Karen has worked over ten years in the wine industry, as Vice President of Sales for both Charles Krug and Francis Coppola Winery and now as President of DAOU Vineyards and Winery. She has not only solidified her love for wine, the wine business and the Napa lifestyle, but her broad sales responsibilities have allowed her to develop relationships across all channels of the business across the world. She spends most of her time in the marketplace, with customers, seems to know everyone and continues to form new relationships daily. As a founding partner in Hunt McKay, Karen looks forward to talking with customers, hearing their stories and in return, sharing the plans for building Hunt McKay – one bottle and one customer at a time.
KATIE MURPHY - ALEXANDER VALLEY VINEYARDS
Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley was mostly prune orchards and pastures when, in 1962, Maggie and Harry Wetzel purchased a large portion of a homestead built by Cyrus Alexander, the valley’s nineteenth century namesake. Here, in a rural community of family farms and ranches, the Wetzel family settled. They raised livestock, cultivated bountiful gardens and restored Alexander’s original home, making it the center of family life. With an eye to their neighbors in nearby Napa Valley, the Wetzels boldly planted premium grape varieties, among the first in the area. Then the family built a small winery and Hank Wetzel, oldest son of Maggie and Harry, produced Alexander Valley Vineyard’s first wine in 1975. His wife Linda set up the books and managed the winery office. AVV quickly established a reputation for estate grown wines with distinctive varietal character. Acclaimed for luscious Chardonnay and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley Vineyards brought recognition to the appellation and became a leading winery in Sonoma County.
Today the Alexander Valley is a prominent appellation known worldwide as the source of rich, age worthy wines. As the twenty-first century begins, the Wetzel Family Estate grows fourteen grape varieties, on diverse sites stretching from the banks of the Russian River up onto the hillsides. Each grape variety is matched to a specific soil type and exposure. Vineyard Manager Mark Houser and Winemaker Kevin Hall work as a team to maximize fruit flavor in the vineyard and to create balanced wines that capture the grapes’ varietal characteristics. Barrel fermentation and aging take place in the cave, where the cool, constant temperature and high humidity are ideal for aging wine. Winemaker Kevin Hall explains, "Inside the cave the ambient temperature varies only 5°F from summer to winter, from 63° to 58°. AVV's cave reaches deep into a hillside adjacent to the winery, for a total of 25,000 square feet.
2016 marks the family’s 54rd year on the historic property and will be the winery’s 42nd vintage. The 3rd generation of the Wetzel Family produces award winning wines that are sold throughout the United States and was voted Sonoma’s Best Winery in 2011 by Bay Area wine lovers. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot constitute over one-half of total production. Other varietals include Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Proprietary wines include CYRUS, our limited production Bordeaux style blend, Gewurz, and our trio of Zins: Temptation Zinfandel, Redemption Zinfandel and Sin Zin, our voluptuous Alexander Valley Zinfandel.
Our six hundred acre property was the homestead of valley namesake Cyrus Alexander. When he rode into our valley in 1840 he called it the "brightest and best spot in the world". He chose this spot to build his home and raise his family, and many years later we would do the same. This wine is our tribute to the man, the region and the very best of the vintage.
In 1995 Hank Wetzel produced the first vintage of CYRUS, Winemaker Kevin Hall carries on the tradition with the 17th release of CYRUS. He selected 10 distinctive lots of estate Bordeaux grapes for this vintage: Cabernet Sauvignon with exceptional concentration, purity & lush texture; Cabernet Franc with finesse & depth; Merlot for texture & structure; Petit Verdot for vivid color & richness and Malbec for deep color & depth.
Light and late are the two words most often used to describe the 2011 vintage. A wet winter and spring delayed bloom and heavy rain at bloom hindered the fruit set decreasing grape yields dramatically. A cool summer prolonged the growing season and harvest started later than usual. The overall effect was great flavor development at lower than normal sugar levels resulting in balanced wines at lower alcohol levels.
After harvest each lot was fermented and aged separately for 12 months, then blended to showcase the vintage and aged for an additional 12 months in French oak barrels so that the flavors could meld together. Additional bottle aging allowed the blend to become seamless. The 2011 has terrific color and expressive aromas of cassis, red cherry, berry, red and black plum along with toasty oak and vanilla. This is a complex wine with flavors of dark fruits, spice, vanilla and cocoa powder. There is good structure on the finish along with a classic elegance and silky dimension as well. This wine is always limited, we produced 912 case of the low yielding 2011 vintage.