Spectacular wines are borne of spectacular terrain. Kenefick Ranch sits on some of the most remarkable land in the Napa Valley – a contiguous 125-acre piece of land in the Calistoga AVA “removed bench” that’s unique in its varied soil profiles and microclimates. Within this single property are small elevation changes, bookended by two canyons creating alluvial fans on each side, and well-drained volcanic soils in the middle of the estate.
Tom purchased the site from a man who was still plowing the land with a horse-drawn plow and he inherited the horse in the sale! Half the property had been planted to vines since the late 1800s. He spent the next 20 years continuously improving the property, replanting all 125 acres in Bordeaux and Rhone varietals using 14 different clones on five different rootstocks. He switched from head-pruned to vertical-shoot positioning and installed drip irrigation to produce higher-quality grapes. Tom and his vineyard team put a large focus and concentration into canopy management, crop adjustments, and harvest timing. The result is fruit of extremely high quality, which we pick in small lots from the vineyards’ best blocks.
Tom’s deep understanding of chemistry and biology was evident in his meticulous approach to the vines. “I like to have as clean a vineyard as possible, with no viruses,” he said. “I like to figure out what the disease or mineral deficiency is, which becomes evident in how the leaves turn. I’m very focused on head-pruning, and on healthy rootstock and cultivars.” Whether Tom was diagnosing the plants or riding his tractor, his true passion was cultivating this land. “Unlike working with people, the vines don’t talk back,” he would say. “Until you make the wine!”
Today, Chris Kenefick, son of late Dr. Tom, serves as CEO & Second-Generation owner and proprietor, carrying on his father's legacy of dedication and love of wine making through the next generation. Chris, alongside his sister Caitlin, grew up visiting and working on the ranch, and watched their father build the award-winning vineyard and winery from the ground up. With the same sense of dedication and care as Tom, Chris works meticulously to oversee production and meet his father's passion.
Kenefick Ranch is planted primarily to Bordeaux varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc. Rhone varietals – Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Petite Sirah completes the portfolio. Ten percent of our production is used in Kenefick Ranch wines, while the remaining fruit is sourced out to Caymus, Nickel & Nickel, Cade, B Cellars, Venge, and several other small producers.