Thirteen years ago, Ken Volk was a rookie Fruit Science graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. A fortuitous event in 1978 prompted a change in career direction from managing citrus and avocado groves to searching for vineyard real estate. The "event" was the making of a "Garage Gamay" with a baseball hat and trash can – the real estate was eventually located near Templeton on the east bank of the Salinas River.
Bonded the following year, 1983, Volk's new venture produced 600 cases of wine from nearby vineyard grapes. The name "Wild Horse" was inspired by the wild mustangs of the Carrisa Plains, and because Ken "wanted an identity that would spark the imagination…one where the name and the imagery would be synonymous." By 1986, Wild Horse was heralded as "one of California's hottest new wineries".
The rest, as they say, is history. A dozen years after the premier vintage, Wild Horse has moved from a converted barn to a fully-stocked Country French-style winery with an additional building for barrel-aging. And the wines have won acclaim and hundreds of awards, along with being sold in 43 states, Asia and Europe.
Wild Horse currently has six varieties in national distribution – three reds, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon; and three whites, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Malvasia Bianca. Additionally, Wild Horse produces smaller volumes of other varieties for regional sale, including Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir and a proprietary red called "Rain Forest Red" which raises funds for forest preservation groups.
Known primarily as a house of premium Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay, Wild Horse actually offers many "horses" of different colors.
Tasting Notes—November 1998