Meet the Winemaker: Kim McPherson, McPherson Cellars

Tue March 19, 2013 8:30 am

Those running in the Texas wine circle are well acquainted with Kim McPherson. He owns his own label, McPherson Cellars, and he’s been instrumental in moving the industry forward, consulting for many of the wineries across the state.

He seems to have been bred for wine-making. His father, “Doc,” a former chemistry professor at Texas Tech University, is considered one of the ‘fathers’ of the Texas wine industry for co-founding Llano Estacado Winery, in 1976. Kim received a food science degree from Tech and later completed the enology and viticulture program at the University of California at Davis. He’s worked in wine—both in California and Texas—ever since.

In 2008 he opened McPherson Cellars out of an historic thirties-era Coca Cola bottling plant in downtown Lubbock. His wines routinely win local and national medals, and his precision with wines made from French Rhone, Italian and Spanish varietals has caught the attention of wine experts across the country.

Last August, I joined McPherson during grape harvest in the High Plains as he made his first ever Dry Chenin Blanc, a beautifully fruity, yet crisp and balanced wine that was just released this month. (It’s currently only available for restaurants or in his Lubbock tasting room and at 4.0 Cellars in the Hill Country.)

Jessica Dupuy: How do you go about selecting which grape varietals you want to use for your wines? Is there a process by which you select the types of grapes you’re going to use? How do you determine what you’re going to use?

Kim McPherson: I’m always thinking about styles of wine and how I can make those styles based on the grapes we can grow in Texas.

Chenin Blanc always comes to mind because it grows so well in the High Plains and it’s so versatile as a blending grape. It goes really well with Muscat to make a blush with red wine. If you put it with Viognier, it makes a beautiful white wine.

JD: Speaking of Chenin Blanc, this year you’re releasing a single varietal Chenin Blanc wine. There are a couple of Chenin Blanc wines in Texas, but they are more on the sweet side, similar to a Vouvray style you might find in the Loire Valley of France. But you chose to make a very dry style of Chenin Blanc, something you also find in a different style in parts of the Loire as well as in South Africa.

KM: My broker always had the adage that you could make the best Chenin Blanc in the state, put it on the sidewalk, and people wouldn’t steal it. There’s just a big misconception about what Chenin Blanc is. Everyone thinks it’s going to be a sweet wine, but it really doesn’t have to be.

My daughter, Kassandra made me do it. She’s always been on my case to make a dry Chenin. So last summer, when she was working with me, I made her help me do it. It just so happened that my wholesaler was interested in having a wine like this for restaurants. which is a pretty big deal. All

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