WHERE HANDCRAFTED WINES RULE
Dektown Cellars was born out of a passion for boutique style wines. From the beginning, owner Kimberly Meyer set out to produce handcrafted wines that honor the local terrain and take advantage of everything Arizona has to offer.
We talked to Meyer, winemaker and mastermind at Dektown Cellars, to find out more about her love for craft wines and what it takes to make your mark among the giants producing large-scale mechanized batches.
CRUSHBREW: Can you tell us a bit about the start of Dektown Cellars? How did you get involved with the company and what prompted its creation?
KIMBERLY MEYER: Through the course of life, we are exposed to many things that at the time seem like a mundane task or ordinary chore, yet later we realize that the experience planted a seed so deeply rooted in the soul that it sprouts up when it is least expected.
I founded Dektown Cellars after discovering that I had a deeply rooted passion for working in a vineyard and having an impact on the outcome of something from its inception to production. I spent a lot of time at the Colibri Vineyards working side-by-side with Eric Glomski – the owner and winemaker for Page Springs Cellars and Arizona Stronghold Vineyards- learning as much as I could absorb about every tiny detail that went into the care of each vine. After a long day’s work, we went into the cellar and picked a couple bottles of wine made from grapes in that very vineyard. The wine was so beautiful both in aroma and on the pallet.
Every fiber of my soul danced with excitement knowing that what was in the glass I was holding smelled, tasted and exuded the very essence of the vineyard before me. At that moment, I as transferred back in time to working in my great-grandmother’s garden and making pasta sauce from the ingredients that my great-grandmother tended to so delicately and lovingly. I knew at once that I wanted to make Arizona wine in a way that would be authentic to the varietal and AZ terroir.
CB: You focus on producing small batches of handcrafted wine instead of going with larger, more mechanized batches. Why did you choose to go that way and what are the pros and cons of handcrafting wine?
KM: This is a great question and I am very excited you asked me this because the answer is the essence of my style. I feel that in order for me to stay true to my desire to create wines that are authentic to the varietal and AZ terroir, I need to keep my batches small.
When harvest time comes around each year and decisions are made regarding which to produce, I find myself following my heart and risking making a very small batch of a single varietal wine because it is too good to blend. I also am very curious by nature and like to try different blending options just to see how they get along.
By sticking to my boutique style with small batches affords me the privilege of making some very awesome and unique wines. For example, when I co-mingled the juices Merlot and Barbera I was blown away at how these two varietals complemented each other in a fashion that I have rarely seen.
CB: Can you tell us a bit about your production style and techniques? Anything special to share: for example, do you hand bottle your wine, anything special about the production, etc.?
KM: I don’t have any special style or technique regarding my bottling. For the 2012-2014 vintages, I used the bottling line at Page Springs and Arizona Stronghold Vineyards. For the 2015 and future vintages I am working with Sam Pillsbury and the Pillsbury Wine Company for production and cellar space etc.
I am honored to be able to work with so many amazing winemakers in Arizona. We are truly a family of like-minded artists and to be the little sister of the group is something that I have gratitude for each and every day. I have learned from the absolute best and I am so excited about how much more I am able to learn each day.
CB: You produce a few red wines but only two white wines at the moment. What makes white wine different and how are Dektown Cellars white wines special?
KM: I have a couple very special white wines. Keeping with my boutique style philosophy, I only have two in bottle at this time. I really loved the 2013 Chenin Blanc that was grown in the Fort Bowie Vineyard. I wanted to make a white wine that would appeal to everyone- leaving them with a new appreciation for a varietal that isn’t as well-known as most white wine varietals. Knuckle Down is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Dry Riesling- admittedly a bold choice because each of these varietals are generally considered high-acid wines. The outcome is one of the most delicious and unique wines that I have ever tasted. My 2013 vintage sold out in a matter of months and I can’t wait to release another wine that is very similar.
Shesha is my other 2013 white wine and consists of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. I wanted to create something that was similar to Knuckle Down, yet focus on a softer, sexier version. I have found that Shesha appeals to the white wine drinker that wants to enjoy a glass of wine on the patio and watch the sunset. Page Springs Cellars featured Shesha in their 2015 Summer Release to their club members.
CB: What’s next for Dektown Cellars? Anything planned or coming up?
KM: I really love to focus on the red wines. Barbera is one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy. It is unique in that it is made in many different styles. I have found that the very best Barberas glisten in your glass with a deep ruby color and some electric purple hues. Like the terroir in Southern Arizona, Barbera presents lush plum and cherry flavors with hints of spice and black pepper. I love how unique this varietal is with its ability to be higher in acidity than many wines, yet lower in tannins making them perfect food wines.
Similarly- I love Sangiovese for so many reasons. Sangiovese is what I would consider to be the premier grape varietal in Arizona because it has made itself right at home in a climate that is very similar to that of the Tuscany region. Sangiovese is the grape used to make Chianti wines and is also a wonderful earthy, food lovers wine. When I blended the Barbera and Sangiovese to make my 2013 Evelyn, I was not surprised at how well the two worked out. It is an excellent wine to enjoy by itself or to enhance any Italian dish.