A Passion to Be Shared: Kenefick

To join the Kenefick Ranch wine club is to become part of the Kenefick family.

Members of this intimate group share not only the top-quality spoils of the winery’s small production of Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, they also share camaraderie with proprietor Dr. Tom Kenefick, son Chris who serves as VP of sales, daughter Caitlin who assists in Marketing, and the entire Kenefick Ranch team, each of whom maintains a passion for their Calistoga land and for great wine.

Personable, humble, and modest, Dr. Kenefick might prefer to fly slightly under the viticultural radar, but with a forty-year history in the Napa Valley, his name precedes him. The former San Francisco neurosurgeon now lives full time on the property he purchased in the late 1970’s and at age 83, he continues to oversee all vineyard operations, ensuring sustainability of this Calistoga’s palisades property.

Kenefick Family

And his grapes? Simply legendary. For 25 years, premium labels such as Caymus, Shafer, Eisele, Nickel & Nickel, Cade, B  Cellars, and Venge have used Kenefick grapes, and several choose to showcase the fact with a vineyard designation on their labels.

These days, one need not explore other labels to experience the results of Dr. Kenefick’s meticulous supervision of his 125 Calistoga AVA vineyards. Since 2002, the winery has produced its own Kenefick Ranch label; varietals now include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, and Petite Sirah.

“Kenefick Ranch is unique because, while some people immediately get involved in producing their own wine, we focused on the grape growing side for almost 25 years before producing our first vintage,” said Chris.

“We think that great wines start in the vineyard so we wanted to master this side before producing our own wine and we think it shows in every bottle.”

Kenefick Wine

Kenefick Ranch wines are found at select wine merchants across the country, and at Napa restaurants such as Sam’s Social Club, Solbar, and Norman Rose Tavern. Only 4,000 cases are produced annually, and the best way to experience the most limited quantity varietals, such as the winery’s first Malbec vintage and a Grenache Blanc, is via club membership.

Kenefick wines can also be taste-tested at nearby Fairwinds Estate Winery along the Silverado Trail. The vibe of the welcoming co-op environment is relaxed and low-key, and tastings often include a few locally-sourced nibbles.

“When you visit the tasting room, you get a sense of what Napa used to be – where it’s all about the wine and a friendly conversation,” said Chris. “We let our wine speak for itself and make sure that people have a great time while tasting.”


Kenefick Ranch Tasting Room at Fairwinds Estate Winery

4550 Silverado Trail N., Calistoga

707-341-5300; www.kenefickranch.com


Article By: Fran Miller