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Over the last four decades, I’ve walked almost every corner of the Napa Valley striving to understand exactly what makes a great wine. After 27 years helping Beringer build a wine company known for premium single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays, my wife, Susan, and I founded TOR Wines in 2001. Jeff Ames made our first wines that year. The plan was simple: our wines would come from only the best blocks in great vineyard sites I knew and revered.
We focus on single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines, cuvées and Bordeaux varietals—each wine is handmade and bottled in a very small quantity. Jeff and I are avid students of what makes a great vineyard. We both agree that the secret is to stay out of the way, not to manipulate—preserve a place in time, capture it in a bottle.
My first three decades in the Napa Valley laid the foundation for TOR. I had extraordinary mentors who openly shared their knowledge and passion. Robert Mondavi, André Tchelistcheff, Warren Winiarski, Ed Sbragia, Maynard Amerine and many others encouraged me to learn and experiment making wine. We tasted together and exchanged information. I had the chance to travel and walk Europe’s most renowned vineyards, talk and taste with other winemakers, taste more, kick the dirt where world class wines are grown, and listen.
The TOR winemaking team has been together since the beginning. Jeff Ames is winemaker, and we share a simple rule— the vineyard is what we showcase, not a heavy winemaker’s hand. Single-vineyard wines are the most challenging and the most rewarding. They demand all our attention and more. There is not room for error, and both Jeff and I thrive on that challenge. These wines are what we’ve proudly built our reputation on, but we also leave room for “magic” if a very special blend shows up at the winemaker’s table. Working with what we consider many of Napa Valley’s First Growths, surprises can happen and we welcome them. Fermentations are based on natural indigenous yeast. Wines are aged in small French cooperage, specific coopers tailored to each vineyard. Each wine is nurtured to bottle unfiltered and unfined.
“Tor Kenward is using his vast experience in the wine industry and impressive palate to find exceptional terroirs and produce fascinating wines that merit serious attention.”
Robert Parker October, 2016
“Equal parts mystic, scientist, artist, music aficionado, lover of fine food, businessman and student of nature...Tor knows a great vineyard. He works with some of the best grapes on the planet. That’s what a great producer does—a combination of instinct and knowledge to be able to recognize the best, and then the talent to bring out the best from the best.”
Corkscrewer Report July, 2015