What’s in a Name: Kiona Vineyards Lemberger

I’ve been waiting for a few weeks for a day like today: cool, breezy, rain clouds hovering above, waiting for just the right moment to wash the town clean.  Being mid-October already, it’s the first real sign of Fall this year.  And the first day of rain in early August.  It’s a relief to say the least.  Also a relief is the chance I have right now to back away from the studies for grad school.  The reading has been agonizingly slow, even depressing at times. To get back to something positive and happy is a nice break!  Perusing the local grocery store I found a new varietal I’ve only ever heard of, but have never tried: A Lemberger.  So I purchased it, then tried to find a bit more information on it.

The Lemberger grape has been grown in Germany for centuries, and finally made its way to the United State via Canada in the 1940’s.  Washington is the largest growing region in the United States for this grape, yet unfortunately a grape that many vineyards seem to shy away from. Experimentation for producing a Lemberger wine began in the 1960’s.  By 1980, Kiona Vineyards produced the first Lemberger wine, while many other wineries were ripping out their vines and replacing them with other (preferred) varietals ( What I found especially appealing to this brief history is that Kiona Vineyards just happened to be the bottle I picked up!  I’ve often heard this wine be compared to Pinot Noir, more spice/earth than fruit forward.  It’s been a while since I have had a Pinot Noir, so it’s hard for me to say one way or the other, though I do recall smoky and earth to be fairly common of any Pinot I’ve had.  So what did I find?

Instagram pic by Me

A medium-bodied wine with a full nose of black cherry, pepper, and a bit of spice.  While these notes are not uncommon, I could detect a dryness in the profile I was not expecting.  I had a sense this wine was unique, and the sip would prove to be just that.  The palate came across in flavors of earth, blackberry, and black licorice.  The sip rounded off with spice and pepper, and smooth tannins.  The Lemberger has a nice taste to it, certainly unlike anything I’ve had before.  However the finish was short, and the wine overall is a bit dry, so if you are not used to red wine as a whole, this may be a bit of an acquired taste.  I paired this with a pasta dish that (not intentionally) had a sweeter red sauce, and it paired very well together.  I would buy this wine again, and will keep my eye out for other labels of Lemberger as well, to get a better feel for this varietal.

Kiona Vineyard 2009 Lemberger:  ★★★  good wine

Kiona’s notes: Medium-body and fruit forward with blackberry and pepper nose; Earth and spice on the palate.  They point out: “this is not stinky cheese!”.

I did find this wine at a Safeway store in Spokane, but am not sure how readily available it is elsewhere. If you are looking to try this adventurous wine, it can be purchased through KionaVineyards for approximately $12.

According to the site in which I found most of my information on the Lemberger, many have turned away from it because they don’t like the name.  They pose the question, “What’s in a name?” I don’t understand this at all, but that may be due to the strong German heritage that run in both my, and my husband’s, family. I do hope next time you are out to find a new wine to try, turn to your more adventurous side and give the Kiona Vineyards Lemberger wine a try!

Have you tried this wine before?  Please share your experiences in the comments below!


One response to “What’s in a Name: Kiona Vineyards Lemberger

  1. Pingback: Red Wines and Pepper | Peppermaster

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