“Are you just going to stand there?” asked the wine pourer. I was stunned. I had walked outside the tasting area around a hedge (nary a fence or barrier preventing my movement) to create an image of a weathered barn. He objected to my standing ten feet from where he shared wine with us moments before.
“I’m going to stand here and create an image,” I offered. He barked, “That’s private property, you cannot be there.” So be it. I left thinking he’ll read all about his rough behavior in our winery critique of Kynsi Winery.
Another odd thing about our visit was the tasting fee. $22 per taste or a 2 bottle purchase. Now Edna Valley is home to some good wines but $22 per taste? It’s a bit much. How about $10 to keep the bachelor/bachelorette parties at bay. $12 maybe. They may also want to disclose their $22 fee on their web site.
Paso Robles wineries right up the road average price points from complimentary to $20 per taste. Paso is more of a wine tasting destination than Edna Valley (Foxen Canyon is closer to Santa Barbara, so I’d expect to see $20 tastings there.)
Below is a reprint of our visit in 2014. Sometimes, revisiting the scene of a magical tasting is better left undone. In this case it certainly would have been better if we had not visited a second time. We’re disappointed.
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.
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.