A Look at Kunde Family Winery

Kunde Family Estate is one of Sonoma County’s best-known wineries, popular for tastings, tours, weddings, and guided hikes across its majestic Kenwood estate. Sprawled across 1,850 pristine acres from meadows to Mayacamas mountaintops, it offers multiple venues besides the main tasting salon, including the Dunfillan Ruins, Boot Hill, the Aging Caves, Olive Hill, and the Hill House.

There’s a lot of history here, as Louis Kunde purchased the land in 1904 and planted it with imported cuttings from renowned producers Chateaux Margaux and Lafite Rothschild.

There is a lot to see here, and wine lovers often like to take in a guided tour, such as the Family Alchemy Tour, which offers insider-insight into three family owned Sonoma Valley wineries including Kunde.

Tastings are a Kunde highlight, of course, in the salons or on the terraces. And for an extra thrill, visit the caves. More than 32,000 square feet of wine caves tunnel through ancient volcanic lava flows, tucked into a steep hillside just behind the winery. They burrow 175 feet below the earth, welcoming with a deep perfume of aging wine and oak barrels.

And the caves encourage all kinds of special celebrations, such as private meals in the dining room that sits encased in five million year old volcanic rock, complete with a volcanic rock stage and elegant redwood tables. Comfort is guaranteed, too – the caves are ideal for aging premium wines, with year-round temperatures of 58°F and a natural humidity of 78 percent, which decreases evaporation of wine from the barrels.

Several times a year, the winery hosts by reservation hikes, as guided, four-hour romps led by fourth-generation winegrower Jeff Kunde, a longtime Kunde staffer, or a Sonoma Valley docent and state/regional parks expert. Each hike includes a discussion of the estate’s distinct ecosystems and native habitats – riparian, aquatic, oak woodlands, native grasslands and chaparral – and admiring the vineyards as you sip wines next to the grapes.

If Kunde is the lead, he brings his dogs, too, and some hike packages include a tasting and Wine Country lunch, with a portion of the fee donated to Canine Companions and the Sonoma County Humane Society.

Ask to see the Hill House, as well, a craftsman-styled abode that was the original home to “Kinney” (the namesake for the parcel of land that was the neighboring Kinneybrook ranch until the Kunde family bought it in 1977) and Henry Hawes, who ran a renowned herd of registered Hereford cattle on the flats and hills of the property in the early 1900s. It’s a very popular place for weddings.

Details: 9825 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood, 707-833-5501, kunde.com.

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Carey Sweet

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