— Sparks, Maker of Old World-Style Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Rosé, Launches Grenache-Focused Wine Project with Label Art by Food World Illustrator, Hawk Krall —
May 9, 2017 – Lompoc, CA – Liquid Farm winemaker, James Sparks, has released the first three wines under his new proprietary wine label, Kings Carey (www.KingsCarey.com): a 2014 Grenache (John Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley AVA); a 2015 Grenache (John Sebastiano Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills AVA); and a 2016 Rosé of Grenache from new Santa Ynez Valley AVA vineyard, Brick Barn.
Kings Carey entails boutique, small-production wines crafted by Sparks, who prefers to “keep it simple” with single varietal and single vineyard bottlings, and minimal manipulation. With Kings Carey, Sparks aims to demonstrate the restraint which can be achieved with local, Santa Barbara Wine Country fruit.
“I’m trying to produce ‘untypical’ wines of typicity,” explained Sparks, winemaker for Liquid Farm and now, Kings Carey. “It’s not that this region can’t produce these types of wines; it’s just that you don’t see it very often. These are not fruit bombs. These are clean expressions of the fruit at-hand.”
Liquid Farm – an established wine label focused mainly on Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Happy Canyon AVA Rosé, all produced with the mission of achieving an Old World style – was part of the recently disbanded In Pursuit of Balance group, “a non-profit organization founded in 2011 to promote dialogue around the meaning of balance in California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.” Sparks is, inadvertently, looking to further that mission by segueing the organization’s mantra into other varietals.
Sparks started life as a Mormon. In 2009, having already left the religion, his brother-in-law brought him to the Santa Ynez Valley, a move which would kick-start Sparks’ career path in wine. Originally assistant winemaker for Santa Barbara County label, Dragonette Cellars, Sparks left Dragonette to join Liquid Farm as the boutique label’s very first, dedicated winemaker. He transitioned over to Liquid Farm at the start of harvest 2013, and continues to make Liquid Farm’s variety of wines (now five Chardonnays, a Rosé of Mourvèdre, and two Pinot Noirs) in addition to his Kings Carey wines.
One recent press nod to Sparks’ winemaking, appeared in January 2017 in Jon Bonné’s article for Punch, “Your Guide to California Chardonnay’s Third Wave”, in which he referred to one of the Liquid Farm Chardonnays as “a standard-bearer for the state’s best chardonnay accomplishments today.”
International Wine Report’s #19 rank in its 2016 Top 100 Wines listing, was another of Liquid Farm’s Chardonnays, a 2014 vintage, which received a score of ‘96’ with comments like, “…yet another brilliant showing from Liquid Farm,” and, “…impressive for its remarkable balance, elegance and purity”.
A dabbler in multiple things “fermented”, Sparks also once owned a cottage industry bakery business, “Another Bread Company”. Combining his interests in both food and wine, Sparks chose Philadelphia-based illustrator and artist, Hawk Krall, to “depict” the Kings Carey brand on the bottle labels. Krall is well known for his food illustration, in particular, as well as his humorous editorial illustration, gallery showings and installations (Art in the Age; Space 1026; Mural Arts Philadelphia; Arts & Crafts Holdings).
Krall’s work has appeared on the streets, in massive murals; in the homes and businesses of private clients; and at many a restaurant, food shop or beverage business, in the form of custom work for posters, menus, packaging and the like (1732 Meats; DBGB Kitchen and Bar; Pizza Brain; Tröegs Independent Brewing; Two Roads Brewing Company; Kings Carey Wines). His art has also appeared in outlets such as Lucky Peach; Serious Eats; Philadelphia Weekly; Philadelphia Magazine; Baltimore City Paper; Cincinnati Magazine; L.A. Taco; Las Vegas Weekly; Narratively; Next American City; NY Press; Rachael Ray Every Day; Variety; Restaurant Business; The Village Voice; and, Willamette Week.
SAVEUR Magazine also counts Krall as one of its contributors; he pens and illustrates a recurring series of pieces in the publication, “Hawk’s Illustrated America”, which “follows his journeys through the back roads of the U.S. in search of our country’s most obscure and delicious regional specialties.”
Kings Carey wines will be available for purchase via the company’s web site and in select wine stores, wine bars and restaurants. A listing of where Kings Carey may be found, will be added to the label’s web site.
The Kings Carey winery space is located in Lompoc, California. Visits and private tastings are by appointment only, and reservations may be made by emailing [email protected].
More information will be available on the Kings Carey web site, including how to join the label’s mailing and wait-lists: www.KingsCarey.com. Kings Carey – and James Sparks – are also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, at facebook.com/KingsCarey, twitter.com/JamesSparksWine and instagram.com/JamesSparksWine.