When first meeting Jim Kimmel, one immediately senses his commitment to his family, relatives, the cattle ranch his father and mother, Ed and Lillian Kimmel began in 1963 and the grapes he grows in the vineyard. It is about continuing the family heritage, now seeing its 4th generation. It is carrying on the legacy that encompasses both Kimwood Ranch, and Kimmel Vineyards in Mendocino County.
Kimwood Cattle Ranch
The Kimwood Ranch began as a cattle ranch, a commercial cattle operation. When cattle prices started a downward spiral, Ed decided to regroup. With the encouragement of John Parducci in 1986, he planted Chardonnay grapes, which once harvested, they sold to other wineries including Kendall Jackson. The location was ideal because the vineyards sit on the west side of the valley against the foothills between Redwood Valley and Potter Valley, wherein the afternoon some breezes cool the vineyard. This area has one of the highest temperature shifts in California.
It was in 2007 the family decided to utilize the choice lots of grapes from harvest to make their wines under their current label Kimmel Vineyards. The focus of this vineyard is predominately Chardonnay and Merlot, although they do make a Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Sauvignon Blanc. The Kimmel’s brought in Bruce Regalia, formally the winemaker for Duckhorn Goldeneye Pinot Noir project and Madrigal. With goals of maintaining ecological balance, having a safe and healthy work environment, and protecting wildlife habitats, the winery decided to become Certified Sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
Kimmel Vineyards has three levels of wine, Illuminate, Four Blocks, and Kimmel Premium Wine. Each level is worthy of recognition.
Kimmel Wine Luncheon
Recently at a LA Wine Writers luncheon in Los Angeles, Jim Kimmel showed off his wines to the marvelous cuisine prepared by Hotel Angeleno’s chef Laura Scallon.
This event was not the first time for sampling the Kimmel portfolio. A luncheon at The Wilshire Restaurant last December featured Kimmel Wines
Illuminate is the most reasonable tier of Kimmel wines. Very affordable, the wines are priced below $10 but are equivalent to those wines priced in the $18 – $22 range. Sampling all three Illuminate wines, the whites are the most impressive. The colorful label immediately draws you in as it depicts a row of grapes vines. One can see that the roots are nourished as they grow deep into the fertile soil that is represented by reds, yellows, and greens. At the same time, they are energized by the blue sky above. This artwork, designed by Karena Vail, is called Roots.
The Illuminate 2013 Chardonnay is a refreshing, light, and bright wine that is nicely balanced with the perfect amount of acidity and minerality. It has wonderful citrus and fresh fruit flavors. The wine ferments in stainless steel for three months. There is no secondary fermentation. This Chardonnay expresses the terroir as well as the essence of the fruit that grows in this Mendocino Vineyard.
Illuminate 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and bright with a very light grass aroma and flavor along with hints of lemon. This wine does not have the overpowering grapefruit flavors so often found in California Sauvignon Blancs. Like all Illuminate wines, they aged in stainless steel. Unfortunately, Illuminate is not available in California but can be purchase from the winery.
The 2012 Four Blocks Mendocino Chardonnay sees no oak. It is crisp, fresh with a nice body, roundness, and acidity.
Kimmel Premium Wines
It is the premium wines of Kimmel that stand out. The 2012 Kimmel Mendocino Chardonnay comes from what Jim calls the middle block. You immediately get a whiff of pleasant floral aromas. The wine is bright and balanced with hints of citrus and some toasty and creamy qualities.
The 2011 Kimmel Mendocino Merlot is bright, giving the wine a new dimension. The 2010 Mendocino Merlot was smoother and silkier with floral aromas and flavors of Blackberry. This wine consists of 100% Merlot. Sampling the 2007 Merlot, one got to see how the wine ages and becomes even silkier with a velvet texture.
It is the 2010 Kimmel Mendocino Cabernet Franc that you do not want to miss. The dark purple color reveals a wine with violet and black cherry aromas. The flavors are predominately cherry with hints of chocolate and spices.
Enhancing the wines was the cuisine from Hotel Angeleno’s West Restaurant. Not being a clam lover, the Garlic Clams were delicate and not overpowering, making this an ideal dish to pair with either the Illuminate Sauvignon Blanc or the Four Blocks Chardonnay. The Grilled Skirt Steak with Crispy Fingerling Potatoes and Chimichurri Sauce is one that should be on the West’s summer menu. It held it’s own with the Kimmel Cabernet Franc.
With drive and determination, Jim Kimmel forges away at getting his wines known throughout the country. He strives to make his wines better and more affordable. One of his messages is that his “wines over-deliver quality for value.” It is a balancing act maintaining that quality yet providing the consumer with a good value. You will discover that Kimmel Vineyards has achieved this when you taste the wines.
For those wanting to sample the Kimmel wines, several restaurants in Los Angeles featuring the wines on their wine lists. They are Culina at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, Spago Beverly Hills, and Wilshire in Santa Monica.
For more information and to purchase wine directly from Kimmel Vineyard: