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WHY DID YOU BECOME A WINEMAKER?
I tried out winemaking when I was 20 years old because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew that I loved the outdoors, the biological sciences, and working with my hands, but didn’t know where to take that. I took a few wine intro courses while at UC Davis, worked as one of Dr. Ann Nobles’ “elves” in the wine sensory lab, and then took a quarter off to work in the cellar at Artesa in Napa. After that first vintage, I fell in love with the industry and just kept going.
Looking for something a little different in wineries? Kelly Fleming just might be a good choice. It is small, boutique, and very much off the beaten path in the Napa Valley.
You've probably never heard of these tiny tasting rooms, but a visit to any of these boutique wineries is sure to be filled with tasty vino and one-on-one time with the winemakers.
Stop me if you've heard this one before, because all of the wine writers recently invited to a tour of Kelly Fleming Wines reached for their pens when the proprietress told the story of how Big Pour got its name.
Kelly Fleming moved to the Napa Valley from Arizona in 1999 to turn her dream of a small family winery in reality. Just down the road from Phifer Pavitt, your first impression most likely won’t be small. Think more along the lines of stunning.
"Scores of wineries line Napa Valley’s main roads. But there are many hidden gems you’ll never find on casual, signpost-to-signpost wine tours. Places like Kelly Fleming Winery offer great wines, serene settings and are easy to get to once you know about them."
"I think — or hope — that what I’ve achieved with Kelly Fleming Winery is that warm and welcoming mix: a beautiful, memorable place to visit, an escape to nature where the end product is something that has been meticulously crafted in every detail, from that clone in the soil to the font on the label and the type of glass bottle we use."
Read the full article PDF here.
As Assistant Manager, Colleen is an admitted jack-of-all-trades. (She’s also Kelly’s daughter.) See below for some thoughts from Colleen on the relationship between their wine and contemporary Japanese fiction, her weirdest wine/food combo, and the joys of doing the dishes with her mom and brother.
Read the full article online.
Each of these offerings from Kelly Fleming Wines are delicious, fine examples of their varietal as well as distinct. In a veritable sea of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, these wines stand out. Seek them out if you can, you’ll be justly rewarded.
Click here to read PDF of the full article.
Specialization can be a great thing; I wish more wineries practiced the habit rather than trying to be all things to all people. Kelly Fleming Wines, established in 1998, makes only limited bottlings of a sauvignon blanc wine and a cabernet sauvignon, each 100 percent varietal.
Click here for PDF of full article.
Feature article on our winery that includes a stunning slide show.
“A house and winery in Napa that look like they're straight out of Provence.”
Originally from Lake Oswego, Ore., when Kelly Fleming first moved to Napa, “I wanted to be a farmer, grow the grapes and sell them,” she said. But she soon discovered that she liked being involved in the process of winemaking “from start to finish.” “It becomes a part of everything you are doing,” Fleming said. “The whole calendar isn’t around holidays anymore, it’s about what’s happening in the vineyards. I’m not looking for birthdays, I’m looking at weather.”
Read the full article which has an interview with Kelly Fleming.
We tried the 2004 100% Estate Cabernet Sauvignon...As the wine opens up seductive aromas of ripe juicy blackberries are revealed along with exotic earth driven spices. The palate is rich and well layered with lots of fruit on the mid palate which leads to a well structured elegant finish.
Set 30 feet underground, the cave is a showcase of volcanic ash rhyolite and limestone from petrified Mount St. Helena lava flow estimated to be up to 3 million years old. It extends 200 feet into the hillside at the winery, which is situated on 300 acres in Simmons Canyon.
...It's worth any effort to see the cave and appreciate this spectacular work of Mother Nature.
Kelly Fleming is the sole proprietor of the winery and until recently the only employee. She has since been joined by her adult children Robert and Colleen. The 300 acre property is nestled between two canyons and only 12 acres are vineyards. I doubt much more will ever be planted as the intent is to keep the land in its natural state. Their production team includes winemaker Celia (Masyczek) Welch. She is a superstar and among her many successes are Scarecrow, Corra, Staglin and Hollywood and Vine. [They have an organic consultant as their land is self sustaining and organically farmed. remove this?]
The facility is gorgeous and a highlight is the cave blasted and drilled into the volcanic Mt. St. Helena. The unique feature in this long cavern is there was no need for reinforcement. The beauty of the stone is there for all to see.
The gourmet lunch was prepared and served by Kelly and her daughter. The courses were accompanied by the two wines they produce, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. French Oak is used for 50% of Sauvignon Blanc and the result is a complexity of aromas and flavors with the grassiness of the varietal being somewhat muted. The 100% Napa Valley Cabernet has great soft fruit and a long elegant finish and was a good complement to the rack of lamb. Both of these wines are excellent.
Small, family-run wineries have long undergirded our region's greatness, and today there are many new wines, from Sonoma to Napa, adding nuance to the landscape. As is the case historically, many wineries are a family affair where parents and children share in the work, from production to business operations. Here are a few we felt you should know about...
...Beyond a sea of cabernet vines, lies Kelly Fleming's stone winery, evoking an Italian villa, similar to many I explored in Tuscany. The winery's stone walls and wood shutters imbue the space with a rustic character far beyond its years.
...Kelly is hands-on in so many aspects from harvesting to forklift operation. She and Colleen both were recently certified in forklift driving, highlighting the involved, familial nature of the winery. They are gracious hosts, welcoming guests by appointment.
Bacchus & Beery Wine Blog had the opportunity to meet Kelly in the summer of 2011 to share wine and stories. Kelly is very down-to-earth with a casual elegance, much like her wines. Her easy style combined with her passion for wine made for a lovely Sunday afternoon visit far away from the frenetic pace of so many winery tasting rooms.
Kelly Fleming Wines produces only two varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. The first vintage was 2004. We enjoyed the 2009 Sauvignon BlancÕs beautiful balance with soft flavors of honeycomb, pear, pineapple, vanilla and honeydew melon. The Cabernet was well integrated with soft and supple tannins combined with flavors of dark cherry, dark berries, spice, and smoke with hints of cocoa and toasty vanilla.
The winery offers appointment tastings by contacting the winery. Elegant wines at a winery of understated elegance; Kelly Fleming Wines is a stop worth making.
Squirreled away in a stunning Calistoga canyon, the family-owned, family-run Kelly Fleming Winery has recently opened the doors to a charming Tuscan style winery. Though Fleming's first vintage was in 2002, the full-scale winery was completed in the fall of 2010. Exuding a classy, understated elegance that mirrors both Kelly and her wines, the new boutique winery is home to 7,000 square feet of wine caves, a dazzling professional kitchen and a lovely seated tasting room that could have been plucked from a page of Architectural Digest.
We all know that a wine is more then the sum of its part, the very best expressions have a soul, an embodiment of something that causes our own introspection, moving beyond our DNA to ponder our own existence during a soul-searching respite made all the more enjoyable by an abetting, quixotic companion...That is how I felt drinking the ‘05 Kelly Fleming Cabernet Sauvignon.
Click here for the PDF of full interview.