His first harvest in 1986, Ken has remained on the leading edge of winemaking technique in California, using scientific experimentation in the vineyards and in the winery, while at the same time adhering to traditional, small-scale methods of winemaking, always seeking to allow the vineyard's character to speak through the wines. This exemplifies his winemaking philosophy: a delicate and ever-changing balancing act between traditional wisdom, scientific assessment, and artistic insight.
From the start, Ken demonstrated a tenacity for empirical analysis and scientific methods of questioning. During his first harvest (at Domaine Chandon, in Napa) Ken focused on tracking grape maturity and later published a paper outlining methods for harvest date forecasting. Upon completing his degree, Ken accepted a position with Domaine Chandon as a research enologist, or experimental winemaker. He was able to design and perform his own experiments in every area of viticulture and enology.
During these years, Ken honed his scientific reasoning, learning to isolate cause and effect in the vineyard, in the winery, and, ultimately, in the glass.
Ultimately, though, Ken's passion called for more than just experimentation. He had come to value the importance of being scientific about decisions in the vineyard and in the winery, but a visit to Burgundy spoke to his artistic side, awaking a desire to make his own finished wines full of mystery and nuance, wines that express the individuality of each vineyard. In 1992, Ken made his first five barrels of Ancien Carneros Pinot Noir, marking the beginning an ongoing quest for great Pinot Noirs.
He was able to further pursue his desire to work on a smaller scale, hand-crafting single-vineyard wines as the winemaker for Truchard Vineyards from 1993-1997.
From 1998 on, Ken has been making his own wines under the Ancien label, where he works exclusively with Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir--his search for great Pinot Noir vineyards has lead him to work with fruit from Oregon to Santa Rita Hills, and even from Morey-St-Denis, in the Burgundy region of France.
This same insatiable curiosity continues to lead him to seek out new and challenging opportunities, beyond those presented in his own winery, He has worked as winemaker for Porter Family since 2004.