Kirk Venge has lived in Napa’s wine country his entire life. He’s seen his share of wildfires threaten valley wineries, businesses and homes. But when the Glass Fire broke out the last weekend of September, it was far too close. Tune in to hear Kirk tell of racing from his home to Venge Vineyards with embers flying all around him. He considers himself very lucky to have the fire bypass his winery in Calistoga. Some of his neighbors were not as lucky. He himself spent a fair amount of time putting out spot fires at his winery.
We were lucky enough to get an hour with Kirk to talk about his life in wine and taste through a few of his current releases. Born and raised in Rutherford, Napa Valley, surrounded by fabled vineyards and wineries, Kirk Venge was instilled with his father’s vision of excellence. He learned the rhythm of winemaking as a young man, helping in the family vineyard throughout the growing season, experiencing the labor of harvest and the love of crush, and working alongside his father, Nils Venge, in the winery. Some of his earliest memories are of riding on the tractor with his father cultivating the Oakville Estate vineyard and dragging hoses across the cellar floor.
Kirk earned his degree in Viticulture and Enology at the prestigious University of California, Davis, graduating in 1998. He worked diligently during summer internships as the experimental winemaker for Mumm, Napa Valley, where he focused on producing still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A post-graduation harvest in New Zealand and travels in the great wine regions of Europe would provide him with the skills to lead production on the Venge Family Reserve wines in 2003.
When Kirk acquired ownership and the title of Winemaker from his father in 2008, he immediately purchased a 12.5 acre vineyard in the foothills of the Palisades Mountains in Calistoga, determined to found a new estate winery from which to further his own Napa Valley legacy.
“My focus has always been the vineyard first. So when the Bone Ash Vineyard site became available in Calistoga, I knew the potential for growing and producing reputable Cabernet Sauvignon was already established in the neighborhood by Bart Araujo, Dr. Kenefick, and Fred Fisher. I believe this site will produce wines that are every bit as compelling as our Oakville Estate designations.”
It is his experience that is the driving force behind the quality of Venge’s wines.
In addition to his own vineyard and winery, Kirk consults with several Napa Valley wineries, striving to craft the best wines the valley’s vineyards have to offer for his clients.
We began with tasting the Eleven Eleven Wines’ 2018 Destin Vineyard Estate Riesling, mouthwatering, vibrant, zesty! Next we jumped into the Venge Vineyards’ 2018 Scout’s Honor Proprietary Blend, Napa Valley, which delivered amazing red and black fruit flavors in its unique blend, headed by Zinfandel, Charbono and Petite Sirah. Named in honor of his beloved Labrador Retriever, we found this wine so rich in its flavor profile it could go with just about anything on a menu.
The 2017 Blend 27 from B Cellars we tasted unites Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot to create an elegant yet bold Bordeaux-style red blend. This wine is a crowd-pleaser; the perfect choice to seduce any palate. What an elegant wine!
Tune in to hear about Kirk Venge’s wines and experiences in our ever-evolving wine industry. For more information, visit: