The Kimmel Family
Headed by matriarch Lillian and guided by her three sons Jim, Gary and Dennis, all the Kimmel Family generations have joined in our winemaking venture.
Typically, you will find Jim in Southern California introducing our wine to notable chefs and sommeliers, then coming back to Kimwood Ranch to taste and perfect the upcoming vintage.
Gary travels throughout Sonoma and Mendocino counties overseeing the latest shipments and working with Mark Welch, our vineyard manager. Dennis rounds out the group keeping track and reporting the “goings-on” of the family’s enterprise.
The youth of the bunch procure the sales effort. Our nieces and nephews also guide our usage of green farming practices here at the Ranch. Blessed with the joy of participating, we are glad to find yet another reason to gather together around “Nana’s” ranch table.
Winemaker Bruce Regalia
Bruce Regalia was born into an Italian family and learned about the senses of taste and smell at an early age. His grandparents haled from from Genoa and Calabria, and the family was brought up in the Italian tradition that everyone was underfed but Sundays were made to eat and drink. It was Bruce’s indoctrination into the world of food and wine.
In college he identified the agricultural field as his calling and received a degree in agronomy and then graduated from California State University, Chico with a degree in plant and soil science and botany. After college he worked as an entomologist for a large farming company in the northern Sacramento Valley and then went to work for a consortium farming 500 acres of walnuts near Chico.
In the mid 80s Bruce managed a Mendocino County vineyard and learned how to make wine by asking questions to those around him. While developing a vineyard for a client who fired its winemaker just before harvest, Bruce was thrust into his first job as “winemaker”. That property was later purchased by Duckhorn Wine Company where he became winemaker and general manager of a Pinot Noir project called Goldeneye. After seven vintages and Goldeye’s success, Bruce left Duckhorn to provide consultation services for several winemaking programs as well as run a custom crush facility near Ukiah.
In 2005 Bruce took over the Madrigal Wine program which was, at the time, being crushed at Napa Wine Company in Oakville. Madrigal Vineyards completed construction of a new winery in 2007.
Bruce has been with the Kimmel Family since 2006 and works closely with our vineyard manager Mark Welch to grow and select only the finest grapes for our wines.
Vineyard Manager Mark Welch
Mark Welch came to Mendocino County in 1980, after completing his Masters Degree at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Soon employed by Victor Matheu Vineyards, a large privately owned vineyard, he farmed for Mr. Matheu until the ranch was sold to Domaine Chandon in 1989.
In 1989, Mark was invited by Domaine Chandon to form his own company while continuing to farm the Victor Matheu Vineyard property. With the encouragement of Domaine Chandon, Mark established Welch Vineyard Management Services, Inc., (WVMS), which became an independent, full farming service company operating in Mendocino, Lake, and Sonoma Counties. WVMS currently farms approximately 550 acres throughout the North Coast.
WVMS has developed and farmed vineyards in the Anderson Valley, Ukiah, Hopland, Redwood Valley and Potter Valley in Mendocino County. In Lake County, Mark has developed vineyards in Clearlake Oaks, Hidden Valley, the Red Hills district and the Kelseyville bench - Big Valley area. He has also provided full farming services to clients in Lakeport, Kelseyville, Lower Lake, Clearlake Oaks and Hidden Valley. He is currently developing and managing vineyards in Cloverdale as well. Owning and leasing vineyard properties, Mark also provides full farming services under vineyard management agreements with other property owners.
In the last few years, Mark has begun to concentrate on preferred clients with whom he shares a common farming philosophy and ongoing friendships, dedicated to farming with respect for the land and the environment. We farm sustainably, organically and biodynamically, according to our clients’ wishes.
Mark graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies and received a Masters Degree in Agriculture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He was a foreign exchange student in Madrid, Spain during his undergraduate period at Santa Clara and resided in Lima, Peru upon his graduation.
As a past president of the Mendocino County Farm Bureau and a long time director/member, Mark was a director/treasurer of the North Coast Grape Growers Association, an organization promoting the interests of northern California coastal wine grape producers. He was also a member and past director of the Mendocino Wine Grape and Wine Commission.
Bio Sustainability Project Manager Jill Kimmel Whitacre
Jill grew up on Kimwood Ranch playing in the creeks, running through vineyards, getting into trouble with her younger brother, Ryan, and generally loving life outdoors.
She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Agribusiness and a minor in Viticulture. She worked with The Vineyard Team from 2002 - 2009. Her responsibilities included coordinating and facilitating grower education events promoting sustainable vineyard management.
Jill was lead of staff on the inaugural Sustainable Ag Expo. She conducted vineyard research on cover crops. Her favorite project at The Vineyard Team was facilitating the development of the Sustainability in Practice Vineyard Certification Standards (SIP Certification). Since 2012, Jill has sat on the SIP Certification Advisory Committee.
These days, most of Jill's time is spent corralling the fourth generation of Kimmel Vineyard hooligans. She lives in Paso Robles with her husband, Tim and three boys Jude, Elijah & Bennett.
Sommelier Jason Kimmel
Jason Kimmel is third generation, son of Jim and Debby Kimmel. He is our family certified Sommelier and became so through the Guild of Sommeliers in 2014. He’s Currently expanding his knowledge and studies for the Master Sommelier certification. He is a French Scholar and is working towards the Master of Wine diploma.
His knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of all types of wine and regions around the world add value and quality to everything we do at Kimmel Vineyards. This enables him to consult the winery on land use, working with the winemaker, manager, and family on executive decisions.
After graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Real Estate, Jason has worked in commercial real estate for the last ten years. In his free time Jason enjoys tasting groups with other wine collectors and sommeliers, traveling to the brightest wine minds, surfing, and spending time on the Kimmel Ranch.
Kimwood Ranch is a unique property full of natural resources and abundant wildlife. The fertile bottom ground and rolling hills provide an abundant habitat for bear, deer, squirrel, quail, wild turkey, wild pig, coyote as well as songbirds, raptors and red tailed hawk.
The ranch began as a commercial cattle operation for Ed, Lillian Kimmel and their boys. Originally, the property was a dairy farm. By the late 70s, Ed and Lillian moved to the ranch full time, residing in the original ranch house built in 1916. Life on the ranch was a joy for the family – raising chicken, sheep, cows and growing fresh vegetables. The lush land allowed for family adventures and future opportunities.
In the 80s, the idea of growing wine grapes sparked Ed’s interest. The neighboring counties of Napa and Sonoma, having spectacular vineyards, inspired the thought that Potter Valley could produce an equal quality fruit and be a viable agriculture for the ranch. Ed took the initiative and spoke with neighboring winemakers and first planted Chardonnay Grapes. In1986 this replaced the permanent pasture, except one field for the remaining cows.
Ed’s dream was fulfilled by harvests in 1989 and 1990 before he passed away in 1991. He loved driving his Ford tractor while workers handpicked the grapes. Loading the big truck with 2-ton bins, and driving to the scales to drop off 6 tons of Chardonnay grapes, bestow memoires and early stories for the Kimmel Family to share around the dinner table.
Lillian and the boys continue to farm the property under the caring guidance of Mark Welch, vineyard manager. In 1997, Mark expanded the vineyard by planting twelve additional acres of Merlot. Ed had always wanted to grow a “red” grape. The Merlot was planted in Ed’s honor on the knoll across Williams Creek. It was one of his favorite spots to spend time at the end of each day looking over his ranch.
The ranch property ideal location provides special growing conditions because the vineyards lie on the west side of the valley against the foothills between Redwood Valley and Potter Valley. This pocket of land has excellent soils and is blessed with afternoon breezes that cool the vineyard. The combination of excellent soil, afternoon breezes and proper canopy management produces high quality grapes consistently.
In 2007, Lillian and the boys, Jim, Gary and Dennis decided to save a few choice lots from the harvest for their own brand and Kimmel Vineyards was created. Kimmel Vineyards is a family endeavor covering three generations. We are very proud and deeply excited about having the ability to craft wines from land we love and know so well.
Focusing of two varietals: Chardonnay and Merlot, we desired to seek a winemaker with equal passion for hand crafted, small lot wines. We found our match in Bruce Regalia, who has led us through every step of our inaugural release of the 2007.
In addition to our Chardonnay and Merlot, we now offer Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Our varietals perfectly express what we cherish about this land. We are thrilled to bring Kimmel Vineyard wines to you.
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