I will start this article off on a personal note. My education as a “philosopher” was impacted by many key historical intellectuals in the discipline. One of these thought provoking men was John Locke (1632-1704). He was one of the forefathers of Empiricist theory which states that we acquire ideas through our experience. Key was his notion of “tabula rasa”, the theory that at birth humans are born with a “blank mind” and without rules for processing data. One forms ideas solely by one’s sensory experiences. Enough of philosophy and on to the wine!
Now with that said, I immediately had an inquiring interest in Locke Vineyards in Murphys, California to see if any connection was there. So upon arriving and meeting both Kevin Locke and Kiki, real name Kirsten, (father/daughter team), I was “disappointed” in no tangible connection to Locke but that was short lived. As I spent time with them, one of Locke’s attributable quotes came to mind. It is “the discipline of desire is the background of character”. Kevin personified this with his desire to go beyond his forestry job to start a vineyard. Kevin and his wife Theresa first purchased a vineyard in Mountain Ranch in 1993 and another in Murphys in 1995. At first they simply sold the grapes to other wineries in the area. Then in 2003, Locke Vineyards label was first introduced. In 2013, Kevin retired from Cal Fire and has focused his devoted attention to the winery and vineyards. In 2018, The Barn on the Murphys property, became the new tasting room. Besides the tasting area, on the property they have a lavender, flower & culinary herb farm from which many of the items that are available in the shop are produced.
I was greeted and welcomed by Kiki with her broad smile. She provided many insights and detailed history on the properties and wines on the farm. She shared her vision as well as her fathers for future development. We tasted various wines and spent time with Kevin who augmented the discussion. Both of them possess a solid “background of character” John Locke had referred.
Clone 337 Clone 338
Today, Locke Vineyards offers a variety of wines which include Viognier, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Petite Verdot, Barbera and a few blends. Perhaps one of the key takeaways was the two different Clones of Cabernet grapes grown on the property. Kevin preferring the Clone 338 and the other Clone 337 (more commonly used in Napa, Livermore, Lodi). His reasoning being that the 338 produces slightly bigger berries and larger bunches to take the Calaveras County summer heat better.
With Kevin’s background in forestry, all winery bottles use trees. The two wines that stood out for me were the 2015 Viognier which only 60 cases were produced. This provided a medium bodied with a strong hint of creamy honeysuckle.
The other wine was their Sequoia, a red blend of 75% Zinfandel and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. On the eye is a very dark wine. It is a fruit forward blend with raspberry and blackberry being prominent, yet balanced on the palate and lingering in the mouth. Only 75 cases were produced.
In 2019, they will release a new creation, their Reserve Cabernet. This is aged in 100% new French barrels for 3 years. This will surely be something to be sought out!
While disappointed I had not met a direct family member of John Locke, I came away more than excited having met two charming, knowledgeable and solid people in the wine business. If experience is the way to knowledge, I just increase my knowledge tenfold in meeting Kevin and Kiki.
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