Kesner Wines was founded in 2002 by Jason Kesner, who managed Hudson Vineyards in Carneros before trying his hand at winemaking. He started with one barrel of Chardonnay and by the following vintage his Chardonnay was being recommended at The French Laundry, one of Napa Valley’s most prestigious restaurants. In 2008 he became assistant winemaker at Kistler Vineyards while continuing to make his own limited production wines from grapes sourced from the Sonoma Coast, the Russian River Valley, Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Kesner focuses on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but has also made Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache and Zinfandel blends. The wines are available primarily by mailing list.
Russian River Valley AVA is named for the river that meanders from Mendocino County in the north until it finally runs into the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. The AVA is cool thanks to its proximity to the northern California coast and the river, and grape growers must learn to deal with regular fog. Nevertheless in recent decades the AVA has become one of the best in the state, meaning that its wines often earn excellent reviews and have considerable cachet. The AVA status was awarded in 1983 and today the appellation has 15,000 vineyard acres. Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape though Pinot Noir has also been very successful in recent decades. Russian River Valley Pinot Noir are known for being rich, lush and filled with concentrated fruit and berry flavors. Russian River Pinot Noirs are today considered some of the best domestic Pinot Noirs.
This white variety originated in Burgundy, but is now grown around the world. Its flexibility to thrive in many regions translates to wide flavor profile in the market. Chardonnay is commonly used in making Champagne and sparkling wines.