I began working in the wine industry twenty years ago, and I’ve touched about every side of the business, from distribution and imports, to restaurants, to wineries. I had fallen in love with wine while I was working as an intern at a wine magazine, and as my career developed, I became deeply involved with Italian wines, working at a variety of dedicated restaurants including Delfina, Locanda, A16, and Terroni. My role as beverage director, with this focus, brought me into contact with winemakers and indigenous Italian varieties (more on this in a moment).
In 2014, I took time between restaurant gigs to work my first harvest at Seresin in New Zealand and fell in love with the actual process of making wine. In 2016, a colleague asked if I wanted to make wine – yes, without hesitation, and I knew instinctively that I wanted to make rosé from the Italian grape Barbera grown in California. This brings together the two most formative places in my wine career, and when it came to the brand, well, I’m a Korean American, so KPOP was a natural name for my brand and story.
Barbera is a red grape from Piedmont, Italy that is naturally high in acidity with just enough fruit and color to produce the lighter style of “rosato” I had in mind, given that I didn’t want to leave the wines on the skins at all. Since the start, I’ve worked with my friend Kenny Likitprakong (winemaker & owner of Hobo Wine Co, Folk Machine, Banyan, & Ghostwriter) as my consulting winemaker, and he helped me find the perfect source for the grape in cool Mendocino county. The fruit comes from 80+ year old, head trained, dry-farmed vines from a select parcel at Testa Vineyard, Redwood Valley, Medocino.
I wanted to make a rose that I want to drink: fresh and crunchy, bright, racy acidity, textured, savory, and one that could age. Kenny has helped me realize a decade-long dream, guiding me technically but letting me make the decisions that would bring my vision to life. Spending time in the vineyards throughout the year, working harvest, and making this wine has let me grow in new ways as a wine professional, filling in pieces of the puzzle that simply reading books or talking with other producers cannot..
The 2017 KPOP Rosé represents my fifth harvest… and my first wine. 2018 was my second vintage and 2019 was bottled and released on August 13th.
I am not making wine in 2020 due to COVID19 and fire related reasons.