Kenny Likitprakong’s winemaking career has been one of constantly moving exploration. “From skateboard to vineyard,” as one local paper wrote, from conventional to natural winemaking, and from traditional CA varietals (Zinfandel and the like), to thoroughly modern styles like skin-fermented Chenin Blanc. He started his career studying at UC Davis’ wine program and spent two years managing their organic vineyard. As Kenny moved into the world and began making his own wines, he took for granted the potions and tricks that most winemakers used to doctor their wines. A six-month stint in France opened his eyes to the possibilities of natural winemaking.
Fast-forward ten years, and Kenny uses only organically-grown fruit and native yeasts, and he assiduously sources vineyards far and wide in order to find the best fruit available. Chenin blanc from Mendocino? Gewurtztraminer from Monterey County? This stuff is no Napa Chard, but each wine has a sense of place. By letting the wine make itself, by intervening as little as possible into the wine “making” process, Kenny is able to offer a lineup of wines whose common thread is like a neighborhood of old Victorians – each with a different façade and paint, distinct and beautiful on their own.
2012 Banyan Gewurtztraminer – $11.99
Banyan is Kenny’s homage to his Southeast Asian heritage. When he discovered an old Gewurztraminer vineyard in Monterey County, he decided to produce a wine that would pair well with the foods he loved to eat, both in flavor and in price! This Gewurztraminer is a killer value and is full of exotic tropical fruit aromas including pineapple, lychee, and lemongrass. The palate is dry and crisp, with great white pepper and honeysuckle flavors. A surefire match with any spicy Asian dish!
2012 Folk Machine Jeanne d’Arc – $16.99
Folk Machine is Kenny’s line of Central Coast, cool climate wines. This savory, skin-fermented white might fall into the “curiosity” category if it weren’t for the fact that it is so darn delicious. It’s 100% Chenin Blanc that’s had 20 days of skin contact giving it an enticingly hazy orange hue. Notes of apples, pears, and cinnamon combine with a cider-like intensity of texture for a food-friendly experience. Try with a hunk of Camembert cheese and just let it wash over you.
2012 Folk Machine Pinot Noir – $19.99
Kenny’s Folk Machine Pinot Noir is made from grapes sourced mostly from vineyards in the Central Coast with a splast of Mendocino fruit. The focus here is cool climate, early-picked Pinot. Juicy red fruits, bright acid, and a beautiful light translucence. Serve this lightly chilled with a summer lunch of little gem lettuce salad and Taleggio grilled cheese with caramelized onions.
2010 Ghostwriter Santa Cruz Pinot Noir – $24.99
It’s no wonder that this wine made the list in Jon Bonne’s Top 100 in last year’s SF Chronicle lineup. Ghostwriter Wines are Kenny’s wines from the cool-climate Santa Cruz Mountains. His Pinot Noir has a density of fruit that will please lovers of CA Pinot, but enough earth and forest floor herbal aromas to woo those Burgundy-philes too. It has a light, bright finish, and is a steal for delicious CA Pinot Noir. Get it while it’s still around!
Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:
18th Hour Cafe will host this month’s featured winemaker, Kenny Likitprakong on Thursday June 20th from 6-10pm. Come by to meet Kenny and taste his wonderful wines.
18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In
Producer Dinner: Forlorn Hope Winery – Friday, June 7th, 7-10PM, Ticketed
Wine Appreciation: Palate Development School with Oliver McCrum – Mondays, June 17th and 24th, 6:30-9PM, Ticketed
Sour Beer Class with Master Cicerone Rich Higgins – Tuesday, June 25th, 7-9PM, Ticketed