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Off the Florida Keys, There’s a Place Called Kokomo

Many people think paradise is a place north of San Francisco, the Napa or Sonoma wine regions—it’s hard for me to disagree, even if I don’t always use my time well to enjoy my time spent in the area. 

“I have got to get better at planning my trips,” I lamented to El Jefe from Twisted Oak winery. He poured his wine at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition public tasting on Saturday, February 24th and was playfully chiding me for not being able to make the event.

I was out in California in January, the week of ZAP’s Zinfandel Festival, but didn’t account for advance planning in order to attend, in addition to missing Saturday’s SF Chronicle tasting.


In a Freudian way, I think I might buy wine as a salve for not having the opportunity to taste through dozens and dozens of wines at a public tasting.
And, so it was this past week as I picked up a bunch of wine at JV Wine in Napa Valley and then at my local store in Indianapolis, the Cork & Cracker.

Make no mistake, however, forsaking genuine tasting opportunities in California and buying wine at a liquor store in Napa is not my preferred mode of operation, but in many ways it helps me try different stuff perhaps better than what I could do by hitting a tasting room, and working through just what’s available in my local market.  Though, there’s not a better deal than a large tasting where you can go through dozens of wines.

Alas, next time …

I do have to say that buying wine at a wine shop in Napa is cheaper (in many cases) than my local market, even with shipping.  The Rombauer Zinfandel was $10 bucks cheaper than what I can find in Indianapolis and the Tulocay Zinfandel that I’ve been buying from a retailer in New York City for $25 was $12.99 at JV.  That $22 dollars on two bottles roughly approximates ground shipping on a 4-6 bottle shipper. 

Amongst several bottles that I’m excited to try are the Bucklin Zinfandel, the Pope Valley Zinfandel, and the Heitz Zinfandel. I’ve already pulled the cork on the 2005 Kokomo Wines Sonoma County Zinfandel.

Aruba, Jamaica OOO I wanna take you
Bermuda, Bahamas come on pretty mama
Key largo, Montego baby why don’t we go

Off the Florida keys
There’s a place called Kokomo
That’s where you wanna go to get away from it all

Back in the day, when the Beach Boys released the song “Kokomo,” band interviews indicated that they thought that Kokomo was a made up word that represented an Island paradise.  Little did they know that a town 45 minutes north of Indianapolis is also called Kokomo—a trust me when I say that this little landlocked gem of a factory town, known for chain restaurants and a world famous strip joint is about as far from a tropical paradise as you can get.

Off the Florida Keys it is not, but one thing we now know is one of their expatriate citizens’ makes some good wine.

Kokomo Wines proprietor Erik Miller is, of course, an Indiana native son from Kokomo, Indiana.  From his web site for Kokomo wines:

Erik Miller, a Kokomo Indiana native proudly introduces his inaugural wine, Kokomo.  From his boyhood days in the farmlands of Central Indiana to his studious past at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Miller always had a westward dream to make wines.  After graduating from Purdue in 1999 he set his sights on Sonoma County to pursue his dreams.
“I traded in the soybeans and cornfields for the brighter skies, rolling hills and vineyards,” Miller said.  “With my Midwestern values I approached the new territory with a promise to always treat the farmers and business the same - with respect.”

The Sonoma County Zin is a fantastic wine, lush but balanced with blueberry, blackberry, crème and toasty integrated flavors. Only 224 cases made.

Kokomo may or may not be a paradise off the Florida Keys, but an Indiana boy is doing some fine work in making some world class wine and paying homage to a place he used to call home—Kokomo, in Sonoma, CA.

Even if I can’t or don’t make future California tasting events, I’ll surely enjoy running across a gem like this in my local wine shop, a make good for my poor trip planning.


Posted in, Good Grape Wine Reviews. Permalink | Comments (11) |


On 02/26, el jefe wrote:

Rhone Rangers. Fort Mason, San Francisco. March 18. Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Be there!!

On 04/13, karthik cmouli wrote:

Well that is something I was not aware before this. For me, the best wines I had tasted had either come from good ol’napa or from canada, and now since reading this, i am willing to try this out this as well, thanks for sharing this with us.

On 04/16, Peter wrote:

it`s very good wine!

On 06/03, Jen wrote:

Nice, good post. I want to have

On 09/11, Pennsylvania Wine wrote:

I love to visit wineries.  My parents have one in PA and I have been to a few tasting.  I did one tasting in Aspen CO and it was really cool.  I learn a lot that day.

On 01/28, the woodlands wrote:

We went and visited some wineries in napa.  I had an absolute blast. Its really cool and all of us enjoyed ourselves. 

When i got back home though I realized that Texas doesn’t have any wineries.

On 09/15, Kim Da Cook wrote:

There is nothing than visiting wineries, and getting to spend the day tasting good wines, we are so lucky here in South Africa to have some of the most amazing wineries, with some of the best wines.
This is what I like to do when on holiday in the Cape (Cape Town) and its even better to do this in winter, sitting next to a log fire.

On 10/29, ville wrote:

All I know is I don’t have had any experienced like this and I like to taste one,
Townsville Accommodation.

On 02/08, Alex the Caterer wrote:

Always remember that in the hotter south of the USA to chill your red wine to 10 Celsius

On 05/15, TN Pas Cher wrote:

ember that in the hotter south of the USA to chill your red wine to 1

On 10/20, computer games wrote:

thanks for commenting.  You’re right in that Napa Valley (and Sonoma to some extent) get the lion share of attention.  there’s not too many small, emerging wineries listed,either.


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