Sales & Marketing / Founder
I’m not a wine sommelier. I just know and enjoy a good glass of wine. And I love it even more if it’s from California, Washington State or Oregon. Although I’ve had no formal training in the wine industry other than being a consumer, you may call me a wine enthusiast. During the time that I’ve been enjoying wine, I’ve learned a thing or two about wine, among them, that wine is about relationships and sharing.
And This Is My Story
Many years back in Kenya I used to take a small drink that was sold in a green bottle. They called it Cider, which from my little knowledge and the color of it, I thought it was wine. Only after years of travel and exposure I came to discover that my little bottle of Cider was, oh well, not wine, but something else:-)
I studied, worked and lived in the United States for 13 years. The U.S. had been my second home since I traveled there to pursue a degree course in Information Technology. While I was immersed in a new world and life with no family nearby, I sought the comfort of new found friends; Americans, Kenyans and other nationals, who helped me navigate the new culture, systems, way of life, and these friends somehow contributed in shaping me to the person I became.
My Wine Tasting Adventures
I’m in college, but I had never tasted real wine. Then I started hanging out with American friends who their only drink of choice was wine. So out of my curiosity, I would ask and they would offer me sips from their glasses. I had no words of characterizing the various tastes and smells of the wines, so to the taste some sips were sweet, others were tangy, lemon-dry, some tasted like cough syrup and juice, others could be very sour and bitter. But most of the smells (called aromas), were distinctively fruity. The conflicting tastes only confused my taste buds so much more that I couldn’t make sense of what I liked or didn’t like about the wines. But because I was eager to explore and know more about their drinks, one friend offered to teach me all about savoring wine and the wine drinking culture. I welcomed the offer. And from the next event, and every other event, she would bring a different bottle, a different taste, a different color for me. In the U.S, wine is identified by the grape it is made from (varietal), and this can be: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Moscato, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbec among hundreds of other grape varietals. Some grapes happen to be more popular than others.
And there I was with my first real glass of wine; a Moscato made from the Muscat grapes – a deliciously sweet white wine that I really liked as it felt soft on my palate. It almost felt like drinking a fruit salad! It was served chilled, which I learned is how white wine is supposed to be served.
After a couple of events and bottle parties, I’d soon graduate to yet another white grape wine known as Riesling. To the nose the Riesling had a flowery aroma, and a crisp, tangy, lingering sweet taste with every sip.
The day is still vivid on my mind when I first tasted a glass of Merlot; a red wine produced from the Merlot grape varietal. It had a dark fruity color similar to blueberries and other dark fruits. In the mouth it felt dense and heavy; something I came to learn is what characterizes medium to full-bodied wines. To the taste it was off-dry; a sharp contrast to the sweet taste of Moscato and Riesling that I had tried before. Over time, I would enjoy a glass of Merlot every now and then. Later, I would move on to the next big taste of American red wine; a Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a dark, dry, full-bodied, full-flavored, intensely aromatic wine that has remained my favorite of all wine varietals. As I became more engaged reading wine labels in grocery stores, I soon found out that not all wine was produced in California; that there were other wine grape growing regions as well. From then on, my house parties were never complete without wines from California, Columbia Valley in Washington State and Oregon among other wine grape growing regions of the United States. I wound try out my friends on different wines from the different regions every time I had a party, observe what they liked best and pay attention to what they would say of my wine selection.
Red wines are known to be more palatable while white wines are more tolerable at first than reds. However, my palate is now accustomed to both types of wines. Depending on the occasion, mood, time, weather, I oscillate between reds and whites plus an occasional rosé. By day, I lean towards the whites; while a sparkling wine and rosé remains my favorite accompaniment to a brunch. Hmm…and on a hot afternoon, I easily dive on a good, chilled, oaked, buttery glass of Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc which is a lighter wine than a Chardonnay. By night, I’m delighted by the color and taste of a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot among other reds.
But I will admit that for the longest time, my biggest craze was the wine blends from Columbia Valley. Blends, as they’re popularly called, are wines that are made from more than one grape. They open with generous aromas ranging from crème, dark fruit flavors to coffee and leather. Most have a semi-dry profile, with a soft smooth taste (call them soft tannins) that ends with an almost velvety finish. Red blends are such easy to drink wines that even today are still my to go to wines when I’m looking for something light and easy. My favorite red blend remains the 14 Hands Hot to Trot from Columbia Valley. For many new customers, I often recommend a red blend as a wine for easy moments because it offers a soft landing even to a newbie in wine. A blend is also great for hosting parties as it would cut across various palates especially in situation where one may not have many wine options on offer.
Through my Journeys and back home
With college education now behind me, I got an IT job in Corporate America. And I continued my wine experiences and adventures attending wine festivals and tasting sessions where I’d get to sip different California wines as I learned about them. In America, every wine bottle has a story, a history behind it and the winemakers and producers delight in sharing their stories with the consumer, connecting the drink to its origins and founders. I would find the history and wine story-telling so enriching and fascinating that today, I still first scan a wine bottle, looking to find and read a story before I open it.
From the breath-taking views of Santa Cruz Mountains in California where ‘Tradition, Quality, and Craft’ is their art of making fine wine, to holidays and wine events in Napa and Sonoma Valley (the two popular grape-growing regions) I’ve learned so much about wine. Through hosting parties with my Kenyan friends, I also got to learn which American wines appeal to the unique Kenya palate.
It was during my various visits to Kenya while still residing in the United States when I observed that the Kenyan consumer was evolving, going through a new phase, acquiring new habits, culture and lifestyle changes that also involved experiencing with wine. But they were limited in their choices and understanding of wine since there was not much wine available in the market at the time. Often they also felt intimidated and lost when selecting wine, which led them to select their wine using only four terms (red, white, sweet, dry). But as we will get to find out, these are very narrow definitions as there’s so much more to wine than color and taste. As I build on my plans to relocate back home, I also strongly felt the urge to take up opportunity to bring American wine to Kenya since there was not much available in the market. I felt the need to bring home these wine experiences that I had enjoyed so much while in the U.S.
Thus I want to share wine and what I know about wine with you; my taste, knowledge, stories and experiences. On this website, you will find information that will enrich your knowledge and enhance your vocabulary of wine. From this online store, you will be able to purchase authentic and good tasting wine from California, Washington state, Oregon and other wine growing regions of the world that will simply delight your taste buds. In this online store and from our shop in Westlands, Nairobi, you will find my personal and favorite picks of wine from California, Washington and Oregon that won’t intimidate you. My recommendations that are so good they simplify the world of wine and save you time from sifting through the myriad of brands that are currently flooding the Kenyan marketplace.
California Wines by Rose is a culmination of all that I love about American wine, the lessons and experiences that I’ve had with wine, the desire to give the best to wine lovers – the people that enjoy wine, aspiration to those who will learn about wine from us and the passion that I have for entrepreneurship.
So lets explore, learn, share and enjoy California Wines by Rose now that I’m back home in Kenya.