WEEKLY FLIGHT 3/10 through 3/12/2022 - Surf's Up in Santa Cruz!

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  • By Mark Meissner
WEEKLY FLIGHT 3/10 through 3/12/2022 - Surf's Up in Santa Cruz!

Happy Thursday!
This week, we bring you a producer with great history in the area known for the best surf in northern California dude - THE Santa Cruz Mtn Vineyard Winery. This winery was established in 1975 and originated on one of the oldest continuously operating vineyards in California - the Jarvis Brothers Vineyard (est 1863). Ken Burnap (see his whole remarkable story and pic below) started the winery with the goal of making the finest Pinot Noir possible in California. Ken had done years of research into what conditions were necessary to produce good Pinot Noir, and the Santa Cruz Mountains region ended up being his final choice. When the 1975 Estate Pinot Noir was released, it made a very big impression on the wine world. It received fantastic reviews and was voted one of the top five or six California Pinot Noirs in the late 1970s, in blind tasting after blind tasting (some of the other 1975 Pinot Noirs were from Joseph Swan, Chalone, ZD, and Mount Eden). In the early 2000s, Ken retired and Jeff Emery (Ken's protegé) today continues to produce these fabulous small-lot wines at their new location near Boulder Creek (which incidentally was build by our friend Brad Brown of Big Basin Vineyards).
It's a great story and their full history is below for you oenophile-history lovers! Join us this week for this fabulous $20 flight of four! Or just order the 4pk for $147. These wines are limited.
Please note our ever-expanding calendar of events:
  • Santa Cruz Mountains Vineyard, Weekend flight March 10-12
  • Stéphane OGIER live from Côte Rôtie, France (Sat, March 19 @5pm)
  • Philippe MELKA vintner visit & grande reception, Thurs, April 28th
  • CERETTO Barolo Dinner, @ Aqua et Vino, Thursday, May 5th
  • R O S É F E S T 2022 ! (Sat, May 14th)
  • Papapietro-Perry Winery, @ Dressler's Metropolitan, Thursday, May 26th
More details revealed as events are released, but please mark your calendars!
Be well, drink well and see y'all soon.
The seeds for Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard were planted when a young man by the name of Ken Burnap (pictured above, nope, not a bootlegger) took a prom date out to one of the finest restaurants in San Antonio, Texas. Ken ordered a bottle of wine and mangled the pronunciation of the French wine. The very snobby and pretentious wine steward humiliated Ken. And that was the moment when Ken vowed to learn as much as he could about wine.
Ken's journey and obsession over wine led him to get his hands on any book about wine at the time - remember this is the '70s. In no time at all he was totally captivated with the subject of fine wine. He soon forgot about the snobby wine steward but had gained a fascinating hobby that would become the passion of a lifetime.
Through the years, Ken’s favorite variety became Pinot Noir – Pinot Noir from Burgundy, that is. Ken was perplexed with how it could be that Pinot Noir from France could be so amazing, while California Pinot Noir was pretty much universally not very good at the time. So he started to do research on Pinot Noir.
Again, this was the early 1970’s - and a great majority of the wine produced in California came out of Napa Valley, including most California Pinot Noir?! Through his research, Ken came to the conclusion that the reason most California Pinot Noir was so bad was that it was grown on the floor of Napa Valley which was the wrong climate to grow Pinot Noir. So he started to look at regions in California that might be better suited to good quality Pinot Noir.
Ken lived in Orange County, in southern California. He owned an industrial contracting firm and ran a restaurant called The Hobbit, which he founded. Purely as an excuse to travel to beautiful locations in northern California, his hobby became exploring different areas that he thought would be excellent for growing great quality Pinot Noir. The way he puts it, he never had any conscious intention of starting a winery. He had developed a list of about 13 criteria that he felt were necessary to have in a vineyard site in order to produce top quality Pinot Noir. In these trips to Northern California he started looking at property that might meet those criteria. Very quickly, his main areas of focus became the Russian River Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains. He felt these would be the best places to grow Pinot Noir in California. Today, it's remarkable this without a degree in viticultural and vineyard science, today, these are proclaimed as the two of the leading appellations for Pinot Noir on the west coast.
Join us THIS week, and taste through Ken's vision; the passion for brilliant wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains!
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard "Baileys Vineyard"
Pinot Noir 2017 - $38/bottle
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard "Branciforte Creek Vineyard"
Pinot Noir 2014 - $51/bottle
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard "Hook Vineyard"
Grenache Rouge 2019 - $33/bottle
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
Petite Sirah 2019 - $25/bottle
Flight of 4 wines (2.5 oz. each) - $20/person
Order the 4-pack of bottles for pickup, it's just $147!
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
"Baileys Vineyard"
Pinot Noir 2017 - $38/bottle
This is Pinot Noir vineyard is located in the Vine Hill area near their old Estate winery location on Jarvis Road. It was planted in 1999 and consists of Dijon clones 667 and 115. It is meticulously tended and is a showcase vineyard for showing off Pinot Noir cultivation in the Santa Cruz Mountains at its best! The Vineyard is at a high enough elevation (around 1,200 feet) to be out of the fog on most days but is low enough to have very cool nights from the Pacific Ocean. These conditions produce a very intense wine with great depth of flavors and the ability to age beautifully for at least two decades from the vintage. The wine really showcases the bright and complex fruit from this vineyard. It has classic Pinot Noir varietal character while also having the earth and spice nuances of Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation Pinot Noir. This wine is big enough to age for many years yet has elegance and complexity in its youth that comes from a perfectly farmed vineyard. Alcohol 12.80% and just 194 cases produced!
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
"Branciforte Creek Vineyard"
Pinot Noir 2014 - $51/bottle
Branciforte Creek Vineyard is also on Jarvis Road in the Vine Hill area of the Santa Cruz Mountains, just a mile away from their original vineyard. The vines were planted in 1988 on a site that originally had grapes since 1863! This vineyard has low yields of very flavorful fruit year after year. This vineyard represents the best of “old school” Pinot Noir, before all of those cola-cherry focused “modern” clones became so popular. This vineyard is Pommard Clone, a clone that results in a more traditional, Burgundian take on the variety. You don’t just get lots of cherry/berry fruit – you get all kinds of flavor undercurrents and aromas - like dried leaves, damp earth, warming spices and fennel. It's these nuanced layers behind the fruit which make this a compelling wine. The 2014 vintage is a little less tightly wound than the previous vintage. It yields its fruit slowly after opening, then develops many layers of savory complexities to go with the emerging fruit. 303 cases produced and just 12.8% ABV. Aged 18 months in French and Eastern European (neutral oak casks) and undergoes no filtration. If you love Burgundy, this is your jam.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard "
Hook Vineyard"
Grenache Rouge 2019 - $33/bottle
Something new from further South! This is a relatively new source of Grenache for SCMV - the 'Hook Vineyard', part of Smith & Hook Estates in the Santa Lucia Highlands! The Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of Monterey County is Pinot Noir country, so it has to be cooler, and when you put Grenache in this climate you get bright fruit along with some zippy/spicy elements. Rhone varieties pushed into cooler growing regions of California tend to produce wines that are much more like their Old-World counterparts than the average California style expression. This is classic Old-World style Grenache, with raspberries and white pepper aromas. This dance of fruit and spices continues through the taste and long into the finish. It has a medium structure that will stand up to heartier foods, yet there is a brightness and tartness that allows it to fit with less hearty fare as well. Grenache is a wine that works great with many foods. It is really making a come-back in California as it can be a very versatile wine that will go with foods that you may not normally drink wine with, such as Indian, Mexican or Asian food. Love. And just 13.2% ABV.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
Petite Sirah 2019 - $25/bottle
The variety known in California as Petite Sirah has its origins in France where it is called Durif. It was named after Dr. Durif who propagated it from a cross of Peloursin and Syrah in 1880. Only in the U.S. is the variety called Petite Sirah – elsewhere in the world it is called by its correct and original name, Durif. Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard has worked with this variety since 1977. The grapes for this wine come from the relatively new appellation of San Antonio Valley in southwestern Monterey County. This high valley, west of Highway 101 is well suited to slightly warmer climate grape varieties. The block that these grapes come from is on top of a well-drained, shale covered hill. ]The variety is famous for over-extracting tannins, often making wines of great fruit intensity, but commonly having a lot of astringency. With whole berry fermentation, grapes are de-stemmed but not crushed at all! Then using 1-ton fermentation bins, the berries carefully release their tannins during fermentation, resulting in an elegant style which is pleasantly not over-extracted. Wild berry fruit, exotic spice and some nicely integrated tannin makes this one of our favorite Petite Syrahs in years. Enjoy with hearty comfort foods and relax. Just 12.80% ABV!