If you are touring the Santa Barbara wine country, make sure you give yourself time to visit the Kenneth Volk Vineyards. You’ll get a chance to taste some unique and delightful varietals of wine. Kenneth Volk Vineyards was our last stop on a daylong wine tasting adventure on the Foxen Canyon Road. We began at the Fess Parker Winery and made our way to four wineries. We had reached the end of the Foxen Canyon Road, but the winery road signs enticed us to go on. We are happy we did, because just a couple of miles away we discovered Kenneth Volk and his wines.
We were lucky that Kenneth Volk was in the tasting room and just happened to wait on us. What a treat! Previously, Kenneth owned and operated Wild Horse Winery in Paso Robles. During his tenure at Wild Horse, he established himself as one of the most respected winemakers in the state. Ten years ago, he sold the entire operation to the Jim Beam Corporation. He sat idle for a brief period, but got the bug to make wine again when he found this ideal location in the Santa Maria Valley at the foot of the Tepusquet Canyon on the Sisquoc River Bench. He purchased the old Byron Winery with the idea of fixing up the facility, and it is still a work in progress for him.
Kenneth’s current lineup of wines includes 18 different labels. The ones that caught our attention were these unusual varietals: Malvasia Bianca, Torrontes, Verdelho, Negrette, Aglianico and Tempranillo. By far and away, this is the most diverse lineup of wines I have seen at any winery we have visited in California and elsewhere. This diversity is because of Kenneth’s love to experiment and find new wines to produce. It is an adventure for him and that is what makes a visit to this winery so special. We tasted several wines and really enjoyed all of them. They are all well-made wines with great character. When you visit, be adventurous and try his obscure labels. You’re bound to find a few to your liking.
We like Pinot Noir, so we could not pass up tasting four of his Pinots. The tasting list has eight different Pinot Noirs. The ones we tasted were impressive, but in particular the Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot and the Sierra Madre Pinot. This is what Pinot should taste like!
Another treat for us was the 2009 Tempranillo from a vineyard on the west side of Paso Robles. We like Spanish Tempranillo wines, and this one has a uniqueness all its own. It’s a bit bigger and bolder than anything from Spain. Delicious!
The winery is open daily from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. To get there from Los Olivos, drive up Canyon Road to Tepusquet Road. Turn right onto Tepusquet Road and go straight over the bridge for about half a mile. Watch for the signs. Other wineries nearby are Rancho Sisquoc, Riverbench Vineyards, and Byron. More on Santa Barbara wine country trails.