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Ketcham Estate – A Lunch Tasting

Allie Ketcham comes to Charleston.
We meet for lunch and sample three wines.

Recently, Gary and I had the opportunity to meet up with Allie Ketcham, owner of Ketcham Estate—a woman-owned winery with a female winemaker in the Russian River Valley. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Ketcham Estate, a very brief history

Mark Ketcham’s (1955-2020) dream of owning a vineyard and making wine began in the year 2000 with the purchase of 17.5 acres (13 planted to vine) in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Four years later, he founded Ketcham Estate. Mark was a hard-core fan of Pinot Noir and hired Michael Browne (founder of Kosta Browne) as the founding winemaker for the new Ketcham Estate Winery.

Photo courtesy of Ketcham Estate Winery

Mark and Allie were set up on a blind date, got married, moved to the vineyard, and had two kids. Sadly, Mark passed away in 2020 from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at a young 65 years old. Allie and her children continue to live on the estate property, where Allie continues the legacy of making extraordinary Pinot Noir in the Burgundian style. And she is doing so with an all-woman team.

{There is a discount code to buy Ketcham Estate wines below, so keep reading}

Lunch with Allie

Ketcham Estate
What you can not see very well is the monster truck with a racing strip down the middle that was her rental while in the area. We all got a big laugh about that. Rick, far left, Natalie, Allie, and Gary, far right.

Our lunch with Allie included Allie, Gary, me, and influencer and blogger Natalie Mason. We gathered at Park and Grove for a Saturday brunch. While I had “zoom-met” Allie a couple of years ago during the pandemic, this was our first meeting in real life. And wow, we had a blast sipping, eating, chatting, and an overall great time. I feel like I have a new friend, for sure.

Ketcham Estate

Allie brought three wines to sample with our brunch. We each ordered a brunch item that could be paired with her Viognier and two Pinot Noirs.

First Wine – First Course
Viognier 2021

For the Ketcham Estate Viognier 2021 ($48), we paired it with the Crab Cakes Benedict. If I must say, it was a perfect pairing.

While some Viognier can be overly perfumy, such is not the case with this beautiful sip. Expect tropical notes of mango and pineapple followed by spring flowers on the nose. On the palate, the approach is bright and cleansing, whisking away the rich hollandaise sauce and crab cake. The mid-palate welcomes a creamy texture with a medium body. Citrusy lemon and mild grapefruit come to the fore and linger into the finish when a final burst of acid prepares you for the next bite.

This wine is an excellent alternative for people who like creamy textured wines like Chardonnay.

Gary is not a huge fan of Viognier, but he loved this wine and found it a perfect match for the Benedict. I am a huge Viognier fan and can only fervently agree with his assessment.

Ketcham Estate

Pinot Noir is the Name of the Game

at Ketcham Estate

This is where Ketcham truly makes a name for itself—starting with Savannah’s Rosé di Pinot Noir, Ketcham Vineyard Pinot Noir, Five Clone Pinot Noir, Nick’s Cuvée Pinot Noir, and Allie’s Reserve Pinot Noir. All follow an Old World Burgundian-style Pinot Noir with just enough California finesse to please the American palate. They show balance and grace, starting at their entry-level Pinot to Allie’s Reserve.

Second Wine -Second Course
Ketcham Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2018

The Ketcham Estate Pinot Noir ($58) was paired with the Croque Madame with Arugula Salad and the Farro Salad. Both of these dishes paired beautifully with this wine. The leaner style makes this and other Ketcham Pinots excellent food wines.

Sometimes, the term “middle of the road” can mean average. This wine is far from average. And instead lands “in the middle” for body/weight, tannins, and acidity. The red fruit flavors provide a hint of perceived sweetness to this dry wine.

On the nose, look for Christmas spices and red fruits, including cherry and strawberry. The palate offers a clean, fresh approach and a creamy texture with a mild to mid-tannic structure. Flavors fall in the cocoa, red fruit, and cola realm with herbal notes of mint, thyme, and bay. Look for oak as the wine lingers through its finish.

Overall, it is a smooth and delicious sip and very well-priced for an RRV Pinot of this quality.


Ketcham Estate


Third Wine -Third Course
Ketcham Estate Allie’s Reserve Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2019

The Ketcham Estate Allie’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2019 ($95) was paired with the Fried Chicken on a biscuit with hot honey and black pepper milk gravy. It totally worked.

The best way to describe this wine is elegance personified. Only their finest barrels make it into this wine, making only 220 cases. After a twirl or three in the glass, look for cooked cherries, vanilla, and cinnamon spice on the nose.

You will want to hold this wine in your mouth for a long time. It’s the perfect French kiss.

But you ultimately want more, so you close your eyes and experience the beautiful, lush mouthfeel balanced with structure, acid, and lux red and black fruit flavors.

This is the ultimate sip at Ketcham Estate, and I do not think you will be disappointed.

A Special Offer from Allie Ketcham to you.

Allie wants you to try her wines. We hope to do a wine dinner here in Charleston sometime in the first quarter of 2024, but that is too long to wait. So here is the deal. Go to Ketcham Estate Vineyard and Winery. Take a look around the website and then select Purchase Wines . Buy whatever your heart desires, and then use the coupon code –  SCRW – to receive a 20% discount on your entire order. That is unheard of, but we had a great time at brunch, and she wants you to share in the good time. Pricing like this is generally only for club members, so act now.

Use the coupon code –  SCRW – to receive a 20% discount on your entire order.

Ketcham Estate



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