Meet The DRNK Winemaker: Ryan Kunde
Q&A with Ryan Kunde, Winemaker/Co-Founder, DRNK Wines
Leading up to our forthcoming DRNK Wines + Fireside dinner on August 17th, we spoke with DRNK Wines co-founder and winemaker Ryan Kunde. In this Q&A, you’ll learn about Ryan’s extensive family winemaking heritage, passion for technology, and what makes Russian River Valley Pinot Noir so special.
Q: How did you get into the winemaking business?
I was born into the business; the truth is a little more complicated. I’m a 5th generation winegrower, however I was never pressured to follow in my family’s footsteps. I had found myself out of college in sales position, desperate for a change. I found a harvest internship at a custom crush facility. It was during that experience that I discovered how I wanted to make wine.
Q: Why are you passionate about winemaking?
I’m passionate about winemaking because it plays to so many of my interests. I’m a reductionist. I understand and learn about complex things by breaking them down and thinking about the most critical and controllable aspects of their nature. I also love seeing how the environment has shaped the landscape and thinking about how it affects a vineyard site. I also really enjoy blending.
Q: You clearly have a fondness for technology as your work with drones for precision agriculture has been well documented. What is your perspective on technology and artisanal winemaking?
I don’t think science/technology and artisanal winemaking are at odds with each other. Informed decisions and research are critical in understanding the process and improving your craft. To me, artisanal winemaking is primarily about bringing interesting vineyard sites artfully to the table. To do that, scouting, site selection, and fermentation are the most important factors there are.
Q: What makes Russian River Valley Pinot Noir so special?
In the first place, Russian River Valley can only grow good Pinot Noir because of the maritime influence of the Pacific Ocean cold ocean currents that contribute to the fog in coordination with the inland valley ways that let fog/wind inland to cool vineyard sites. So, within the Russian River Valley, there is a range of soil types, terrain, and meso climates that create Pinot Noir of all different types. Often times, that Pinot Noir has great fruit characteristics, ready to enjoy young, and have great cellar life.
Q: What wine are you most looking forward to pressing and fermenting in the fall?
The answer for this question is more often than not, the new vineyard. We’re continually adding vineyard sites to our portfolio and are almost always thrilled with the results.
Q: What’s most exciting to you about DRNK Wines’ future?
I’m excited about the momentum and the following that we’re building. I’m excited seeing where we are in the industry as a whole, as it’s waking up to a new reality of what matters. I feel like a lot of the important aspects of wine like the grower, the land, the vineyard, and the artist are being appreciated for what they contribute to the conversation.