Driving Force

Farming and winemaking is in the blood of Owner and Winemaker, Kirk Venge, “When I was growing up, working in the vineyard and winery gave me a wonderful sense of partnership in my family’s way of life; it was hard work, but I loved it.”

Born and raised in Rutherford, Napa Valley, surrounded by fabled vineyards and wineries, Kirk Venge was instilled with his father’s vision of excellence. He learned the rhythm of winemaking as a young man, helping in the family vineyard throughout the growing season, experiencing the labor of harvest and the love of crush, and working alongside his father, Nils Venge, in the winery. Some of his earliest memories are of riding on the tractor with his father cultivating the Oakville Estate vineyard and dragging hoses across the cellar floor.

Kirk earned his degree in Viticulture and Enology at the prestigious University of California, Davis, graduating in 1998. He worked diligently during summer internships as the experimental winemaker for Mumm, Napa Valley, where he focused on producing still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A post-graduation harvest in New Zealand and travels in the great wine regions of Europe would provide him with the skills to lead production on the Venge Family Reserve wines in 2003.

When Kirk acquired ownership and the title of Winemaker from his father in 2008, he immediately purchased a 12.5 acre vineyard in the foothills of the Palisades Mountains in Calistoga, determined to found a new estate winery from which to further his own Napa Valley legacy.

“My focus has always been the vineyard first. So when the Bone Ash Vineyard site became available in Calistoga, I knew the potential for growing and producing reputable Cabernet Sauvignon was already established in the neighborhood by Bart Araujo, Dr. Kenefick, and Fred Fisher. I believe this site will produce wines that are every bit as compelling as our Oakville Estate designations.”

It is his experience that is the driving force behind the quality of Venge’s wines.