A VINEYARD TOUR WITH WINEMASTER RANDY ULLOM

KJW0148If you are like me, when you go to the store to buy a bottle of wine, your decision-making process consists of “Ooh, that’s a nice label!” or “That looks impressive.” You might know you have a particular penchant for red blends or maybe you prefer a Merlot over a Cabernet, but that’s the extent of your wine knowledge. This was me until I met Kendall-Jackson‘s Winemaster Randy Ullom.

KJW0140Randy’s profession is right up there with doctors, surgeons, and other professions critical to human survival. His job is to make sure each bottle of wine that carried the Kendall-Jackson name is nothing short of impeccable. Whether it’s a Jackson Estate Pinot from Outland Ridge or a K-J Avant Chardonnay – it’s Randy’s job to make sure you have the perfect wine tasting experience, no matter the bottle, price point, or food pairing.

KJW0162-2For Randy & his team of winemakers, it’s all in the details. From the fragrant blossoming grape vines to the soils composition, a wine is not ready to barrel if the vineyard isn’t ready. It’s incredible, really. Why one wine has a bold, rich flavor, where another, from a similar region, is full and spicey, is all dependent on the terroir – a language Randy is fluent in.

KJW0159Terroir is how a particular region’s climate, soil, and terrain affect the taste of the wine. Loosely translated it means “sense of place” in French, but the translation doesn’t do the phrase justice. While technically, it is the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology, and climate of a certain place, interacting with plant genetics, express in agricultural products, for Winemaster’s like Randy, it helps define the wine’s personality.

KJW0154 While terroir is the wine’s personality, the vine is where it all starts. Constance and I were lucky enough to see the vineyard in full bloom & the fragrance is nothing short of remarkable. It’s light and magical and perfectly pure. Each one of those little flowers has the potential to turn into a berry. Once the blooms pollinate and the berries start to form, the real magic happens. There is a bunch of cell division that takes place & the berry and terroir get together and develop this really effervescent grape.

Think about it. Randy & his crew track the soil composition, the shifts in climate, the geology of a region, and all the other atmospheric changes that take place and adjust accordingly to cultivate the perfect bottle of wine. Maybe a new flavor combination is developed because of a bizarre weather pattern or tweaks have to be made because something affects the soil late in the pollination cycle.
KJW0147-2It’s remarkable how the relationship between man and earth creates something so phenomenal. The relationship between the soil, the grapes, the atmosphere, and the caretakers involved in the process, all come together to create something so complex and delightful.

Next time you take a sip of wine, close your eyes and imagine where it came from. Think of the fog rolling in over a vineyard, the sun ripening the grape, all the magical stuff that happens in the soil, and think of Randy – the Winemaster whose passion is bringing you the best wine you could ever imagine.
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constanceThis post was created in partnership with Kendall-Jackson. All opinions are my own.