Kynsi Winery – Edna Valley

An Edna Valley Bottle of Wine

In A Tranquil Place Savoring Nature

Watching the Hummingbird Circus while you savor a good bottle of wine at Kynsi Winery’s patio tasting room sealed the deal for us. Of the six wineries we visited in Edna Valley, this was the winery of the day.

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The vineyards surrounding Kynsi Winery.

The Valley is a small appellation nestled in the leeward side of Montana de Oro State Park  (just west of San Luis Obispo.) There are only 25 or so wineries here with a very distinct taste, farming in black humus and clay-rich soil. While the coast here can be cold and foggy the mountain’s transverse position (perpendicular to the coast) protect the valley while the east-west orientation of the valley lets ocean air cool off the hot growing season. This protects the valley from cold in the winter and spring creating California’s longest growing season. With a longer growing season, they pick grape at the perfect moment without concern of rain or cold conditions forcing an early harvest.

Tucked into the southern part of this valley, you’ll find Kynsi Vineyards on Corbett Canyon Road, the western most of the two main north-south roads through the valley. The name Kynsi comes from the Finnish word for ‘talon’ as a tribute to the barn owls who saved the farm from gophers. In the early days the place was infested with gophers. Owners, Don and Gwen Othman discovered a nesting pair can capture and digest up to 40 gophers a night when feeding their young. They installed nest boxes in their barn, and the owls arrived, saving the day.

Surrounded by rolling hills covered in grapevine, so far out in the country, away from highways, the estate winery sits in the quiet of the country. You can actually hear your heart beating in the tranquility. Walking away from our vehicle, hearing the heat tick out of the engine, it’s quiet enough to hear the hummingbirds whizzing around.

What bottles of wine did we taste?

2012 Pinot Blanc $22 ✰+
2010 Pinot Noir $32 ✰
2010 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard $41 ✰+
2011 Pinot Noir Stone Corral Vineyard $48 ✰+
Hutash Harvest Cuvee (Pinot, Grenache & Syrah) $28 ✰+

Their tasting room is a small sheltered bar opening out to a grass garden thriving with native California sage. Thusly, the hummingbirds. They’re all over the place. The one particular Hummingbird catching  our eye was a little bird with music so loud in her head she didn’t care what anybody else thought. Perched upon a wire fence she danced evenly, bobbing left three times and then right three times. Repeating the dance, left, right, left, right, for several minutes. She was dancing to music we couldn’t hear.

Our host, Patrick, an aspiring winemaker, has worked in Europe and the US. You could say he is serving his apprenticeship. So the obvious question for him is, ‘What will your label say, what will you name your wine?’ After thinking about it for a bit, he said he didn’t know yet, adding, “Next time I see you, ask that question.”

Hopefully we will be back soon to see Patrick, Kynsi Winery and the Hummingbird Circus.

Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Temecula.

Some notes on our wine ranking system.

– -✰ means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰ means -Not liking it too much
✰ means -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰++ means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+ with a slash, it means we disagree.


(This story was updated 2-13-15 to correct an error stating Point Conception was part of the mountains west of San Luis Obispo. Point Conception is south of this area, west of Solvang and Foxen Canyon.)