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Kylie Huffman Walks Us Through How She Creates the Winery’s Wines

Written By: Carli Critchfield
Photographed By: Erik Isakson   Rancho Capistrano Winery

Expert: Kylie Huffman
Credentials: Head Winemaker at Rancho Capistrano Winery
College Living: Kylie started making wine during her senior year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Orange County wine lovers—discover the taste of Napa, Tuscany and Temecula Wine Country in South Orange County! That’s right, Rancho Capistrano Winery in San Juan Capistrano will transport you there. Kylie Huffman, the winery’s winemaker, goes in detail with us about what it takes to be a winemaker and all the greatest wines that will make you feel like you are sitting under the Tuscan sun when you are really around the corner from your own home. So sit back, relax and pour yourself a glass.

Q: Your wine options are quite vast. How do you come up with the wine menu?

Kylie Huffman: Yes, we offer a very wide selection of wines! We have numerous small tanks, so we make a lot of small batches, which allows us to have such a wide variety. Our goal at Rancho Capistrano Winery is to have a new wine to try every time you come in. A lot of our decisions are based on quality of the fruit that is available. We want to offer the best of every varietal. I can tell from the beginning if a wine is going to be really good simply by taste and smell. It’s so exciting! The final steps of winemaking often entails blending, which will also dictate if we have a new wine, by blending different proportions of different varietals. This is my favorite part because you get to step back and look at what has been created and it’s so much fun to discuss!  

Q: What is the process behind making a new wine?

KH: For new wine I begin by transferring the must (grapes, stems, skins and seeds) into a stainless steel tank through a pump. I will inoculate with yeast to ensure a thorough fermentation process of about two weeks. The yeast converts the sugar into alcohol, CO2 and the aromas and flavors of the wine. Where all the magic begins! It smells incredible by the way!

Q: Do you prefer red or white wine, and which wine is your favorite on the list right now?

KH: I love both. It depends on what I’m doing, where I am, the weather and my mood. I am usually drawn to reds more than whites. I am a sucker for a big bold complex [Cabernet]. My favorite wine right now is the new Mission Grenache. It’s the perfect red for summer because of its light body and chalky, yet oaky palate. We also have an amazing new Zinfandel that literally brings a smile to my face when I sip it. That’s all I need to say.

Q: Winemaking sounds like a great job. How did you get into it?

KH: It really is the coolest job in the world. I considered culinary school after college. A degree in wine/Viticulture would have served as a complement to cooking. I was required to complete an internship at a winery while at Cal Poly, and once I started working at a winery, I fell in love. There was so much to learn! Working with your hands, the physicality of it, the freedom, the connection to nature, the art, the business, following the tides or seasons; it feels natural.

Q: What is the best food pairing with your favorite red wine? White?

KH: I love pairing our Pinot Noir, Romeo with our Pan Seared Salmon or any of our fresh fish catch of the day. Our Kale Chicken Caesar salad pairs perfectly with our crisp mineral, Mission Pinot Gris.

Q: What is included in the wine club?

KH: If you live in Orange County, you need to become a Rancho Capistrano Winery wine club member. Members receive two bottles of wine a month, two free glasses of wine every time you come in, a 15 percent discount on all other bottles you purchase and access to the best and most beautiful outdoor patio! The winery is conveniently located in beautiful San Juan Capistrano (and soon to be a second location in San Clemente on Del Mar Street). We are a full functioning restaurant and our food is delicious. What other winery can you be a wine club member and visit every day and drink free wine?

World Traveling Wine: After graduating from college, Huffman completed a series of internships at wineries in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, New Zealand and Australia.

Beach Babe: Huffman grew up by the beach and didn’t know much about wine until Cal Poly.

Rancho Capistrano Winery
26755 Verdugo St
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
949.481.6682
Wine-Os This Story is For You! Find out How Rancho Capistrano Winery Makes Their Incredible Wines

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