April 30, 2022: What Does “Estate Grown” Mean?
We work very hard to make the best wines possible, and we see a very bright future for Texas wine. One of the most important aspects of making great wine is having access to the best quality fruit (grapes) possible. The common saying is “great wine is made in the vineyard.” As we started off as grape growers, and then transitioned into wine, this is one of the areas we take most pride in with our business, but it’s probably a bit underappreciated by most people.
Our primary vineyard, Narra Vineyards, was started in 2013. Nikhila used her experience working at a top winery in Napa to understand what needed to be brought into Texas to grow the best quality grapes possible. As grape growers, we sold grapes to many wineries throughout the state of Texas over the years, and many of the highest end wineries in Texas are prominent grape buyers. Through 9 growing seasons and working with exceptionally talented individuals, we’ve learned how to consistently grow amazing fruit. When we make wine, we only use fruit from our own vineyard because we have full control over the growing process and can ensure we grow the very best grapes to make the best quality wine, year after year.
So how do we grow exceptional grapes? We focus on creating low yields (we cut back growth to limit the clusters that grow per vine) to concentrate flavors. We have meticulous canopy management to promote even ripening of the berries. Uneven ripeness affects the taste of the wine, and is very difficult to correct (requires extensive sorting of grapes after they’re picked). We don’t use pesticides and herbicides, and instead use creative practices to achieve great results, like using a steam weeder. To grow the best quality grapes, we also have to employ a large staff of vineyard workers. Growing grapes requires a lot of manual work and we’ve been very fortunate to employ a great team of vineyard workers that have stuck with us for years.
So that’s a bit on the growing side. But we say we’re “Estate Grown.” What does that mean and why do we care so much? It means every wine you drink from Kalasi Cellars was made with grapes we grew ourselves. It means we are laser focused on growing the best quality grapes because we know it is the most crucial part of crafting the best wines possible. Lastly, being 100% estate grown allows customers drinking our wines to better taste year-to-year changes to understand the effects of the growing season as customers are drinking wines made from the same grapevines year-over-year. This uniqueness is what draws many customers into loving our wine.
While at first glance this decision to be 100% estate grown seems like the most logical choice, it’s actually not. There are significant drawbacks to being 100% estate grown, but they’re drawbacks that we’re willing to accommodate because we think the upside for the customer is too great to do anything else. In 2021 our vineyard was hit by a large hailstorm. Very little fruit came off our vineyard in 2021 because of this. A non-estate grown winery could easily find a vineyard to source grapes from and go on with a 2021 vintage with minimal interruption. We can’t. If we decide we want to make wine from a different varietal, then we have to plan years in advance to plant the vines at our vineyard. When you plant new vines, you need to give them a few years to grow healthy before you begin stressing them out and harvesting grapes from them. Then it takes us years to make wine and age it before releasing. A non-estate grown winery can switch varietals with a snap of a finger and can release new varietals in less than half the time it takes us.
I’ve now said quite a bit about what we mean when we say “Estate Grown,” along with some pros and cons. That’s not to say that any winery that chooses to source grapes from a vineyard, rather than growing grapes themselves, is any better or worse than what we do. They are just different approaches without a right or wrong answer that can be applied to the whole industry. For what we’re trying to achieve, we believe it is the right answer for us, and it’s why we take a lot of pride in what we do. We hope you enjoy the wines we meticulously craft this way!