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 or Oregon. Although I’ve had no involvement or training in the wine industry other than as 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 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. Immersed in a new world and life with no family nearby, I sought the comfort of new found friends; Americans, Kenyans and other nationals-alike, who helped me navigate the new culture, systems, life, and somehow contributed in shaping me to the person I have become.
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 curiosity, they would offer me sips from their glasses. I had no other forms of characterizing the various tastes and smells, so to the taste some sips were sweet, others tangy, lemon-dry, some in between the taste of cough syrup and juice, others could be very sour or 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 their wines. But because I was eager to explore and know more about their drinks, one friend offered to introduce to me all about savoring wine and the wine drinking culture. I welcomed the offer. And from the next event, and every other gathering, 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 of (varietal), namely; Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Moscato, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbec among hundreds of other grape varietals. Some grapes happen to be more popular and known than others.
And there I was with my first glass of California wine; a Moscato made from the Muscat grapes – a deliciously sweet white wine that I really liked as it felt soft on my palette. 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, with 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; an attribute 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. 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 on reading wine labels along grocery store aisles, I soon found out that not all wine was produced in California; that there were other wine grape growing regions as well. And after that 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 U.S. I wound try out my friends with different wines from the different regions every time I had a party, and observe what they liked best and listen to what they would say of my wine selections.
Red wines are known to be more palatable while whites are more easily tolerable at first than reds, but my palette is now accustomed to both types. 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 my biggest rave must be 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 easy to drink wines that have become my everyday to-go to wine. My favorite red blend remains the 14 Hands Hot to Trot from Columbia Valley. To customers, I often recommend a red blend as the perfect choice for everyday moments, for parties (as they tend to suit the different palettes) and to a person who is new to wine drinking.
Through my Journeys Sipping Wine
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 at 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 more about wine. Through hosting parties with my Kenyan friends, I also learnt what American wines appeal to the unique Kenya palette.
It was during my various visits to Kenya while I resided in the United States when I observed that the Kenya consumer is evolving, going through a very exciting new phase, acquiring new habits, culture and lifestyle that also involved experiencing with wine. But they were also limited in their choices and understanding of wine. Often they also felt intimidated and lost when selecting wine, which leads 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.
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 should enrich your knowledge and enhance your vocabulary of wine. From this online store, you will be able to purchase quality wine from California, Washington, Oregon and other U.S. wine growing regions that will simply delight your taste buds. In this online store and in 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 Kenya marketplace.
California Wines by Rose is the culmination of all that I love about American wines, the lessons and experiences that I’ve had with wine, the people that enjoy wine or will learn about wine and start enjoying it and the passion I have for entrepreneurship.
So lets explore, learn, share and enjoy California Wines by Rose now that I’m back home in Kenya.