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Winery-Sage: Karine Winery In North Fork

We’ve had our place near Bass Lake for about 14 years and thought we had tasted at most of the wineries in the mountains.

Several weeks ago, with a group in our favorite little Mexican restaurant in North Fork, we ran across a wine we hadn’t tasted, from a local winery that we had forgotten about — Karine.

The name rang a bell but, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why, until Karen remembered having a bottle of their Syrah a couple of years back with our friend Stephanie. Our new-found wine buddies at the restaurant couldn’t say enough good things about the wine so, clearly, more investigation was needed. Oh, the burdens that we take on for our readers.

Karine Winery is the love and toil of a young couple, Nick and Angeline DeHart, and their almost-two-year-old assistant winemaker, Emmeline Karine DeHart — clearly the driving force behind the entire operation.

Nick grew up just down the road in Lemoore and Angeline was born and raised in Fresno. The couple met over beers at Fresno State where Nick was pursuing his degrees in Enology and Organic Chemistry and Angeline was getting her Masters in Special Education. Nick apprenticed in various areas in Europe such as Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace, and Tuscany — earning an additional certificate in Switzerland. Fast-forward four years and the couple married in a vineyard.

Both Nick and Angeline have roots in grape farming. Nick’s grandfather grew bulk wine grapes in the Central Valley and Angeline’s family grew raisin grapes in the Fresno area so, somehow, it seemed inevitable that — after meeting over beer and being married in a vineyard — their life would gravitate to owning a winery.

Unlike most winemakers, however, Karine is a labor of love that they can indulge because Nick’s main job is consulting with a number of wineries, providing guidance for those who want to improve the quality of their wines.

Karine, after Angeline’s middle name (and now Emmeline’s), is a hobby and a passion for both rather than a necessity. This means that the DeHarts can experiment with various varieties and vineyards in a never-ending quest for the perfect, pure, unmanipulated wines. If Karine makes a wine that is good but still below their exacting standards, they won’t sell it under their label but will sell it to other wineries.

According to Angeline, “If it doesn’t knock your socks off, we won’t sell it.” I suspect most of Karine’s “failures” would be unmitigated successes for most wineries, so it doesn’t seem to be a problem moving the wines that they don’t want to release.

A big year’s production for Karine is around 300 cases. The DeHarts are not interested in greatly expanding their production, but would like the volume to increase just enough so that they can make their favorite wines every year instead of every second or third year.

Karine considers itself a “Garagiste” winery, a movement that is about experimentation and occasionally upsetting the status quo when tradition is holding back the quality of wines. The only qualification to joining the Garagiste movement is a willingness to think outside the box and the open-mindedness to not accept winemaking practices as religious doctrine that must be followed — even if there are better, more progressive techniques that produce better wines.

Like all good winemakers, Karine understands that wine starts in the vineyard and the best way to produce exceptional wines is to have exceptional wine grapes that need little or no manipulation by the winemaker. In true Garagiste fashion, Karine makes wines that you either “Love to Love” or “Love to Hate.”

We had planned on tasting with the Karine folks the weekend before at the site of their upcoming winery location just outside of North Fork, but Mother Nature threw us a curve by raining two weekends in a row. Great for a rain starved California — not so great for outside wine tasting. We were also up against a deadline due to the imminent arrival of Emmeline’s little sister.

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Winery-Sage is an online Winery Encyclopedia designed to help you compare wines, wineries, and regions by using a unique database. Cross-reference varietals and the wineries that produce them, as well as discover events sponsored by wineries and associations. We’re not here to sell you anything or pass you off to paid advertisers, just share the love for wine. Discover the world of wine at Winery-Sage.com.

About Karen and Ken Geiszler: Winery-Sage.com

Here you can find information on Winery-Sage.com bloggers bios and how the web site came to be. Ken – Brief Bio I am somewhere approaching middle age (which is everyone’s way of saying older than I want to be but I’m not dead yet). Isn’t it ironic that when some one claims to be middle aged, that would typically mean they plan on living to be 110? I can claim to be in my 40’s as long as the blog post gets published relatively quickly. I was born and raised in Northern California, and developed a passion for wine in my late 30s. I am married to Karen, the other principal in KG Web Publications, the partnership that publishes Winery-Sage.com. Our last name starts with “G”, hence the name “KG “ works for both of us – no top billing. Marriage is all about compromises. When/if things slow down at work, I would like to get my certificate as a certified wine professional. Karen – Brief Bio Karen is slightly older than Ken (a point that never gets old – not hard to tell which of us wrote the biographies, is it?). She was born in Southern California but moved to Northern California in the mid 80’s. Ken claims it’s because she was looking for him. She ignores him, something at which she has become quite adept. She was a retail manager for a number of years and continued to work through our older child’s school years but became a stay at home mom for the 2nd one. To avoid going nuts, she volunteered at both kid’s schools. Now that the younger one has moved on to college and doesn’t want his parents within a three hour drive of the place, she has moved onto administering the web site and allowing the 90 pound Black Lab to take her for walks. She graciously allows Ken to think that they have compromised on a number of things even though she’s usually had the end game figured out from the beginning. Joint Bio (Updated in late 2017) Karen and Ken have now been married for almost 25 years and to date have still not had a fight since being married, probably because Karen has the patience of a saint. They live in the Silicon Valley area but have had a cabin just south of Yosemite (in the Bass lake area) for roughly 13 years and spend as much time up there as they can. The first 10 years was just relaxation. The last three has been lots of work recovering from damage caused by the Courtney Fire and then continuing on with a remodel. In 2018, they hope to spend as much as a third of their time up at the cabin. They are now empty-nesters with with older soon being married and living in London with his new wife for the next two years and the younger one living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, getting his PHD in Bioinformatics. From where he got the brains is a complete mystery but the best guess is the dog. They are not sure what they did to drive their kids so far away but the only consolation is that both sons claim to want to move back to the Bay Area in the future. Why was Winery Sage born - frankly, it’s too long of a story to post to include in here but if you are interested you can read about it at: https://www.winery-sage.com/blog/general/winery-sage-com-birth-of-a-web-site/ Cheers! Karen and Ken

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