What's Their Story:
Like so many before them, Black Kite Cellars came into existence after a visit to Burgundy, France. Impressed with the famed wines of the Côte-d'Or, Tom and Rebecca Birdsall wondered if they could create the same magical wine in California. Fortunately for us, the resounding answer to that question was yes.
In 1995, Rebecca Birdsall's parents, Donald and Maureen Green, purchased their first vineyard in Anderson Valley and planted Pinot Noir. Their first vintage was in 2003. Black Kite Cellars sources their Chardonnay grapes from three esteemed vineyards, Gap's Crown, Sierra Mar, and Jasper Freestone, which they own, all located on Sonoma Coast.
Black Kite continues to be a family tradition, with the third generation now involved.
You wouldn't be ridiculed if you thought the owners of Black Kite Cellars were just into kites unless you are an ornithologist or knowledgeable about birds. The name Black Kite is an homage to Donald Green's favorite bird, the Black Shouldered Kite (now called the White-Tailed Kit). The bird is endangered and indigenous to the Mendocino and Sonoma area. The Birdsalls' shorted the name to Black Kite. A striking feature of these birds is their distinctive red eyes.
Why The Winery Made The Grade:
In earlier blogs, I talked about the "Burgundian Boast," how Northern California wineries that produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines claim their wines achieve or are made in a Burgundian style. Black Kite definitely walks the walk to match their talk. Black Kite Chardonnay. Their wines have definite fruit flavors with subtle, delicate chalk mineral notes that make delicious wines and are prized in Chardonnay from Burgundy.
We were lucky to enjoy the Gap's Crown Chardonnay during our tasting. This Chardonnay was an exquisite wine that melded tropical notes of pineapple and lemon with minerality that made it delightful. Wine Spectator consistently awards their wines with ratings in the 90's.
Black Kite Cellars offers tastings in two different locations: 1200 American Way, Windsor, CA, or their new tasting facility at 12747 El Camino Bodega Freestone, CA 95472. We visited them at the 1200 American Way tasting salon in Grand Cru Winery Collective. Grand Cru, by the way, is a magnificent place to visit; it offers an opportunity to taste wines from a number of wineries without actually having to make multiple trips.
I particularly enjoy visiting wineries at Grand Cru for the cozy, intimate experience, but some may miss the grandeur and opulence that some wineries offer the public.
We have yet to visit their Freestone facility, but we look forward to going soon!
Which Winery Visitor Type Would Love It :
The Black Kite Cellars tastings focus on their wine's process and its sheer wow factor, although the wine is of such high quality that all should plan to visit. As such, I think this winery would specifically appeal to
Authenticity Seekers and
Casual Wine Drinkers may find a visit interesting due to the lack of pretense about the surroundings and the modern vibe of the facility.
Address: 1200 American Way, Windsor, CA, or their new tasting facility at 12747 El Camino Bodega Freestone, CA 95472
Phone: (707) 222-3005
Hours: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM Thursday-Monday (Closed Tuesday and Wednesday)
Tours/Tastings Offered: Tours at the American Way facility are $45.00, which includes 6 wines; tastings at the Freestone facility are $70.00, which includes 6 wines. Nibbles and bites are available for extra.
Read about the next winery in the series: Bouchaine Vineyards
Or read all of the Chardonnay blogs in our new guide, Chardonnay Wineries of Sonoma and Napa.