While The Drive is on Summer vacation, and so is California Wine Country, there is no new show this week, so here is an episode of another wine show from The Drive, called Off the Vine, sponsored by our friends at Sonoma County Winegrowers, which originally aired on January 25, 2023. Cheers!
Erik Miller has also been a guest on California Wine Country, on an episode recorded on March 13, 2019 which we repeated on the podcast just last week.
Erik is the owner and winemaker of Kokomo Wines, which he started in 2004. He named it after his hometown of Komomo, Indiana.
Karissa Kruse tells the story of when she met Erik and how she knew his wines before she met him.
Kokomo Wines is located in Dry Creek Valley. Erik describes how 2004 was a different world, for wine. He sold his first two vintages entirely in his home state of Indiana. He attended Purdue University and there is Kokomo memorabilia in the winery.
How young is that Rosé?
They are tasting a 2022 Rosé that was bottled yesterday. The color is a light salmon pink. It is made with Grenache and he does not leave the skins in for very long because he likes the light color. It is crisp and dry, “delightful,” says Harry Duke. Rosés can be good after a year in the bottle, but the market likes Rosés that are of the current year. It won Best Wine in the North Coast wine competition, which put them on the map.
Kokomo Winery is open 7 days a week from 11am-4pm, at 4791 Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. It is up on the hill on Dry Creek Road. The decor reflects Kokomo as a blue collar town. He is starting a pop-up in their barrel rook, called Breaking Bread, a new and different style of wine. It is about being with friends and sharing food and wine. He brought a pet nat, which in French is short for petillante naturelle, the ancient way of making sparkling wine. This is made with old vine Dry Creek Zinfandel. He adds nothing to it, so it could be called a natural wine. For example, they do not add sulphur dioxide (SO2) when they bring in the grapes, they don’t add yeast or any nutrients for fermentation. Since it uses natural yeast, it doesn’t need a lot of human intervention. They bottle it before it finishes fermenting, which builds pressure inside the bottle. It retails for $28. Erik says this really shows the versatility of Zinfandel, because you can make it into a “big peppery red” or a Rosé. They also make a red Zin under the Breaking Bread label, which also follows traditional simplistic ways. It makes for a lighter style than most Zins.
When Erik started Breaking Bread, he asked Goguette Bread to make baguettes shaped like wine bottles.