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Kale Anderson – Wine’s Prodigy

Posted: August 26, 2016 3:07 p.m.
Updated: August 26, 2016 3:07 p.m.
Kale Anderson and the Broken Axle. Kale Anderson and the Broken Axle.
Kale Anderson and the Broken Axle.
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We’ve all heard of childhood prodigies before. How Mozart published his first musical composition when he was 5 (yes, like when you and I started kindergarten). Or, how Pascal at 12 independently discovered nearly all the geometric proofs of Euclid. I’m not sure I know one.

The wine world has its own prodigy, whom I met a few weeks ago at the Rhone Rangers tasting. He’s Kale Anderson. He’s boyish-looking early thirties.

But don’t let his looks fool you. He was at UC Davis, the premier school for learning how to grow wine grapes and make great wine. But Kale was at Davis to study medicine to become a doctor, like his dad.

In the course of his premed studies, he took a class in plant biology, and his life was transformed. He changed his major, eventually graduating with a degree in viticulture and enology.

Here’s where the prodigy stuff kicks in. After Davis, he went onto stints making wine at some of the most prestigious wineries in California, including Colgin (whose top wines start at $250/bottle) and Cliff Lede (helping make wine from the illustrious Beckstoffer to Kalon Vineyards), this while still in his twenties.

He eventually settled at Pahlmeyer Winery (another icon in Napa Valley), becoming its winemaker. The irony is that all of these wineries focus on Cabernet Sauvignon.

But when Kale decided to open his own Napa winery in 2008, he started and has remained with Rhone varietals, mainly Syrah and Grenache. Choosing the name for the winery has simple. It’s Kale Wines.

And, like his aptly named Home Run Cuvee, Kale has hit it out of the park, garnering scores in the 90’s from Wine Spectator and Robert Parker. Now, Kale will tell you he makes his wine to be magnificent, not to get the high scores. But I’m sure he welcomes the acclaim his vino has garnered.

While remaining a consulting winemaker at Pahlmeyer and running Kale Wines, Kale has been consulting at numerous wineries and becoming involved in additional aspects of the wine industry.

For instance, I interviewed him at the launch of the new AVA, Fountaingrove in Sonoma County. He helped Fountaingrove (home to Kick Ranch among others) achieve this distinction. It’s a lengthy and challenging process to become a new AVA, meeting the criteria of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and the Trade Bureau of the U. S. Department of the Treasury.

But Kale does not believe in half measures. He’s fully invested in making world- class wine.

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