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Uncorked: Winemaker builds white wine brand in red territory

Anthony Yount is the winemaker at Kinero Cellars and Denner Vineyards.
Anthony Yount is the winemaker at Kinero Cellars and Denner Vineyards.

Anthony Yount has always pushed winemaking boundaries.

The winery is his own creative laboratory.

Whether it be the usage of cement eggs, terra cotta pots or 500-liter Hungarian oak barrels for fermentation, Yount has continued to evolve. 

With his Kinero Cellars label, Yount’s evolution has continued. He only makes white wines at Kinero, whimsically driven to do so because they didn’t find his father’s favor.

But, just as Yount was able to craft white wines that eventually appealed to his father, so too was he able to build a brand from 150 cases to 650 cases in a neighborhood known for red wine. 

Winemaker spotlight 

The challenge has driven Yount. 

Paso Robles, California, has sunny, hot summer days and has gained a reputation for red wines with bold flavors. Yount, whose full-time job since 2009 has been winemaker at Denner Vineyards, wanted the uniqueness of Kinero whites to stand out.  

“Selling white wines in Paso Robles is like pushing a square rock up hill,” Yount quipped. “But, it’s been fun. I see more people start buying my wines because they are looking for a quality white. These are weird wines. Denner whites are very polished in their style. I’m trying to make wines I love and then find a consumer base that appreciates what I’m doing.” 

Kinero has three wines, Alice ($22), a Grenache Blanc; Rustler ($30), a Roussanne from the old vines in the James Berry Vineyard in Paso Robles; and a Chardonnay ($35) from Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande Valley just north of San Luis Obispo and only eight miles from the Pacific Ocean.  

In the six years of Kinero’s existence, Yount has embraced being creative as a winemaker and has explored outside-the-box techniques.

While I didn’t try Rustler, when Yount opened the four-year-old Hungarian oak barrel in which it was being aged, pineapple and ginger notes instantly escaped.

The wine was skin fermented for a couple days. Yount said he considers it “the red wine of the Kinero project” and is “weighty, savory, textured and would be great with medium-flavored Asian foods.”

Kinero has allowed Yount’s creative genius to shine as he’s uncovered great vineyard sites and farmers, which have helped the project further evolve.

“It’s a passion project,” Yount said. “A lot of experimentation started with Kinero. There are interesting crossovers between whites and red. I might get great results from a barrel on my program with white wine, see the results so much sooner and introduce it to the Denner label reds.”

What to buy

Kinero Cellars, Alice, 2013 ($22): A robust mouth feel, this is a hearty white with lemon, thyme and orange peel flavors. Tropical notes, a stoney minerality and crisp acidity add a stunning freshness to the finish.

Yount aged the Grenache Blanc, Alice, six months in stainless steel and concrete.

“This is a fresh, vibrant wine for a hot summer day,” said Yount about the wine named after his grandmother. “It’s very mineral driven. It reminds me of Chablis, which we drink a lot of.”

Visit for purchasing information. 

Wine 101

Over the past two years, Yount has planted 7 1/2 acres in the York Mountain AVA, where he lives. The planting will lead to a new brand, an estate red wine that will come from the planting, which is 5 acres of Grenach, 1 acre of Syrah, 1 acre of Mourvèdre and half an acre of Claret, a Rhone Valley white varietal. 

“I want both projects to be about 1,000 cases. That would be enough to keep me busy,” said Yount, who used the profits from Kinero to fund his new project. “The intention with the new planting is to make one wine planted to the proportions that will ideally be a composite of a wine.”

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for Shaw Media. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at

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