Atop the famed Laguna Ridge down an unmarked dirt lane off Frei Road near Sebastopol, amidst the vines, is the home of DRNK Winery. DRNK is a family collaboration between Ryan and Katie Kunde and her parents, Dale and Nancy Dougherty. Cleverly named, DRNK is a compilation of each family member’s first initial and so much more.
Historically, the Sonoma Valley Kunde family has been making wine since the 1880’s. As a young boy, Ryan scouted vineyard sights with his grandfather and learned his way around the cellar and bottling line with his father. Often mentoring with notable winemakers, Ryan’s fascination of blending wine eventually led to advanced studies in Enology and Viticulture at UC Davis. Fast forward to 2012, when Ryan, a fifth generation winemaker, ventured out on his own in search of new and unique vineyard sites using drone technology.
One of only four wine caves in the Russian River Valley, this spectacular 300′ long subterranean cave’s natural temperature is a constant 58 degrees year round with 85% average humidity. Absolutely perfect for aging wine. Designed to hold 500 barrels, there’s also several alcoves for private tastings and events.
Ryan sources his grapes from the finest vineyards, including Hallberg Ranch and Mill Station, Sebastopol; Wildwood Vineyards, Glen Ellen; Widdoes Vineyard and Barron Vineyard, Green Valley/Russian River Valley; and also from lesser known vineyard blocks. At the time of my visit, he was working with over 14 Sonoma County varietals for future bottling.
Ryan is a modest young man with a simple philosophy.
“My approach to winemaking is inspired by wines that speak of where they were farmed. For me, it’s not enough for a wine to be flawless or good, my wines need to represent where they’re from in their structure, balance, taste, and style. To achieve this I try making my wines with minimal intervention; nature is capable of taking care of every step of winemaking, it’s up to me to shepherd the wine, and protect it from oxidative, thermal, and biological stressors, so each wine can achieve its full potential.”
Bacchus & Beery Wine Blog Interview – 2014
By appointment only, visitors can meet with Ryan for an unforgettable experience and taste the cave-aged wines first hand.