This Story starts like so many. Derrell and I were on a trip to Paso Robles looking for wines for the Shoppe and as luck would have it we ended up one day at the tasting room for Lone Madrone on the west side of Paso. As we tasted our way through their wines, I noticed a sign that read "Ken Volk Wines", so when I asked the tasting room manager if they poured Ken Volk wines she told me that they share the tasting room with Ken.
After a couple phone calls we arranged a time to taste the Ken Volk wines and when we found out that Ken himself was making the trip from Santa Barbara to Paso to pour for us, we were as giddy as school girls before prom.
First, a little history about Ken Volk:
- 1977 Made first wine in trash can (yummmm)
- Attended numerous enology courses at U.C. Davis
- Graduated from Napa School of Cellaring
- 1981 Founded Wild Horse Winery, over the next 22 years went from 600 cases per year to 150,000 per year
- 2003 Sold Wild Horse Winery
- 2004 Purchased the Byron Winery and renamed it Kenneth Volk Vineyards
- 2006 Released his first wines in the new facility
- 1982 Founding President of the Paso Robles Grape Growers Association
- 1998-2001 Chairman of the Board of the Paso Robles Vintners and Growers Association
- Currently serves as a founding Board member and Chair of the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo Enology, Wine Marketing and Viticulture Advisory Council
- 1990 Winemaker of the Year, Wine & Spirits Magazine
- 1990 Winemaker of the Year, Central Coast Wine Classic
- 1998 1st San Luis Obispo County Winemaker of the Year, Ca. Mid-State Fair
- 1998 Outstanding Citizen Award, Central Coast Salmon Enhancement
- 1999 Agriculturalist of the Year, Cal Poly State University
- 2001 Wine Industry Person of the Year, Paso Robles Vintners and Growers Association
I think it's safe to say that Derrell and I were a little nervous about meeting Ken. After a few minutes of us telling him about our vision to bring California's most unique and interesting wines to Anchorage, Alaska; He began to tell us a little about himself and his vision to make varietaly correct wines and to focus not only on the popular varietals but also on more obscure (heirloom) grapes like Negrette, Malvasia Bianca, Verdelho and Trousseau.
Over the next couple hours we tasted some of the most amazing wines of our two week stay in Paso Robles, and it was immediately obvious that it would be a mistake to ask him questions that were intended to make us look like we were somewhat intelligent in the world of wine. So we tasted wine and listened to Ken talk about all his wines in detail. It was like being in school, only the kind of school that you never want to graduate from, the kind of school that you want to attend for the rest of your life. I remember at one point Ken mentioned that growing Pinot Noir was a piece of cake compared to growing Negrette.
Almost without exception we sample every wine before we bring a wine in to our shoppe. If a wine is highly rated by a source like Robert Parker or Wine Spectator we are confident that they will pass muster, however if a wine is un-rated in every case we sample it and sometimes multiple times. There are some exceptions to this however and Ken Volk is one of them, if it is made by Ken we have learned that regardless of vintage it will be fantastic because he doesn't put his name on a bottle of just average wine. Whether you are in our shoppe or traveling throughout the world whenever you see the name Kenneth Volk on a bottle of wine you never have to worry if it is going to be good or not.