We just got around to opening our last bottle from a Wine Country Gift Basket that we received last Christmas. The basket included a bunch of snacks plus a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines were from someplace called Kiarna Vineyards – a winery I’d never heard of. Honestly, I’d expected the wines to be horrible, so I had been procrastinating on opening them.
Google revealed that KiarnaVineyards is owned by Houdini, Inc. – the parent company of Wine Country Gift Baskets.com – and is one of several house brands that Houdini owns to supply their gift basket business. In other words, you won’t see these wines in stores.
According to Kiarna’s web site they produce five different wines. Kiarna claims the wines come from Monterey, California; however, the wines are only labeled as “California” which means the grapes could be from anywhere in the state.
Upon finally trying the wines, we were pleasantly surprised! While neither of the wines were show-stoppers, they were both well-made with decent levels of complexity and balance. The Chardonnay was crisp with lots of lemon and green apple flavors, hints of butterscotch and even some raw hazelnut. The Cabernet was effervescent and tart, with notes of cola, strawberries and raspberries. Both wines seemed “sticky” which made be wonder if there was some extra sugar added to the mix. Both also claim to be barrel aged, but unlike many California wines, the oak was subtle – a big plus if you prefer European wines.
According to Kiarna, both wines are medal winners at various wine competitions – a measure regarded by many as a better indicator of quality than the “100-point scale” reviewer ratings.
Wine Country Gift Baskets will ship the Kiarna wines to Kentucky, as well as baskets containing their other “house” wines, which is why I’m mentioning them on my Kentucky wine blog. (Baskets containing wines from larger wineries are ineligible for shipment here.)
So if you happen to get one of these baskets as a gift, you can rest easy knowing the wines are perfectly drinkable, if not even enjoyable!