Acquiring the Land
In 1980, Robert Mark Kamen came to Sonoma to celebrate the sale of his first screen play. While hiking the rugged hillsides of the Southern Mayacamas Mountians, Robert came upon a piece of property with breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay. Remote, rugged, and without roads, water or electricity, the 280 acres had an immediate visceral impact on Robert. A week later the property was his.
From the beginning, Robert had a clear concept of what he intended for his property. First and foremost was the desire to plant the highest quality mountain grown Cabernet Sauvignon, while holding true to the pristine spirit of the land.
Planting the Vineyards
Viticulturist Phil Coturri was brought into the project to develop and oversee the master plan. Robert and Phil shared the philosophy of preserving the wildness of the place with as little intervention as possible. This led to the commitment to organic farming, a rarity in those days. The result is that the soils at Kamen Estate vineyards have never been exposed to chemical fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides. The property is certified organic and biodynamic.
From Grape Grower to Wine Grower
Initially the fruit grown at Kamen Estate was sold to premium Sonoma wineries. In 1996, a devastating fire tore through the property destroying half of the vines along with Robert's home. Where others would see this as a tremendous setback, Robert's credo, "Everything happens for a reason", held sway. The fire forced him to focus not on what had been lost, but on what could be gained. Out of the experience he decided to stop selling grapes and began to make his own wines. A major replanting began as soon as the ground cooled. Cutting edge viticultural techniques were employed, new selections of Cabernet clones were chosen and different rootstocks were used. The first release of Kamen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was in 1999.
Proprietor – Robert Mark Kamen
Growing up in a city housing project in the Bronx and earning a Ph.D in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, Robert believes everything happens for a reason, and yet nothing in his life was ever planned. His screenwriting career started quickly with the unexpected sale of his first screenplay. While visiting friends in Sonoma to celebrate this success, he happened upon the 280 acre property. After falling in love with the view, he purchased what is now his vineyard estate and the muse for his bottled screenplay – Kamen Estate Wines.
Robert has enjoyed an uninterrupted film career with over twenty of his screenplays becoming major motion pictures, among them: Taps, The Karate Kid series, Fifth Element, The Professional, Transporter series, A Walk in the Clouds, Lethal Weapon III, Taken and Taken II. When he is not occupying seat 6A of American Airlines travelling for his films or the wines he produces, visitors often find him at his desk in Sonoma working on future film scripts or worrying about the weather.
Viticulturist – Phil Coturri
Phil Coturri, a pioneer of organic viticulture, has been overseeing the Kamen Estate vineyards since Robert Kamen purchased the property in l980. Phil is a highly regarded Viticulturist with over thirty-five years experience with top quality northern California vineyards.
He is also a proud runner up in the Jerry Garcia look-alike contest.
Winemaker – Mark Herold
Mark Herold has a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine and a Doctorate in Ecology from the University of California, Davis and is highly regarded for his relentless and uncompromising pursuit of excellence in winemaking. As a winegrower, his conservationist approach is one in which the vineyard is the single most important factor influencing wine quality. His goal at Kamen Estate is to fully express the character of the vineyard while producing intense, complex and balanced terroir-driven wines.
Associate Winemaker – Katy Wilson
Associate Winemaker Katy Wilson joined the Kamen team in the 2009 vintage. Katy graduated from Cal Poly in 2005 with a degree in Wine & Viticulture and also in Agricultural Business. After finishing her studies, Katy spent two years working vintages both internationally and in California. It was during her time at Joseph Phelps that Katy was first inspired to make Cabernet. However, her path first took her to Flowers Winery on the Sonoma Coast where she was the Assistant Winemaker. During her two years there making elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, she fell in love with the Sonoma Coast and developed a passion for making Pinot Noir. But ever wanting a challenge, Katy decided to diversify and move on to work for Kamen Estate Wines making distinguished Cabernet and Syrah.