“A man cannot make him laugh - but that's no marvel; he drinks no wine”. …
William Shakespeare

You may not know that many vineyards, domestic and foreign, sell grapes to other vineyards and wineries.  And there are vineyards that do not make wine. They grow grapes in order to sell them to other producers.  So unless a bottle indicates that the grapes used to make the wine were from the same vineyard that made the wine, as “Sportin’ Life” sang in Porgy & Bess”:  “It ain’t necessarily so.”

The Urban Winery
For believers that terroir is everything that can be a problem.  And while I support that terroir is very important (growing Pinot Noir in Florida, after all, would just not be a good undertaking), a visit to an urban winery in Sonoma County reinforced my understanding that winemaking is an art in its own right.  You might compare it to fine art photography wherein the photographer has a vision, but the printer is no less essential to the final result.

Patrick Krutz of Krutz Family Cellars is such a printer; a grape magician concocting wonderful wines from carefully sourced grapes.  The winery is in a strip mall of such wineries in Santa Rosa.  But growing up and watching a neighbor make wine in the family garage prepared me for this years ago. Krutz, of course, has modern equipment and blends its use with classical technique. His 2009 “Sleepy Hollow Vineyard” Chardonnay (sold out) with its deep color in the glass makes one prepare for an overload of oak. But not so!  Its fruit is fresh, the finish crisp but lingering and inviting another sip. I learn the juice spends 6 month on the lees; the wine enjoys 40% new French oak.  Krutz has gone to some expense to make this wine, and for a micro-winery that’s a bold undertaking. (The 2010 is sourced from Martinelli Road, Russian River Valley).
Patrick Krutz: Winemaker, Fork-Lift Operator, Business Planner, Marketing Mgr., Public Relations,etc.

But his wine sells fast. And he’s been collecting awards since making wine commercially in 2006. The Chardonnay was awarded 93 points from Wine Enthusiast.  And 91 points (Editor’s Choice) went to his full stainless, no lees, neutral oak, no maloactic “Ceja Vineyards” Chardonnay – illustrating Krutz’s versatility.

Patrick Krutz (L) and the "WineMizer" (R)
His classical technique comes to your taste buds again with the 2009 “Stagecoach Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Syrah: co-fermented in Northern Rhone style with 10% Viognier (350 cases).  This is silk in the glass with a finish that is romantic. 94 points Editor’s Choice. But you don’t need the points. You need your taste buds. Taste his 2009 “Akins Vineyard” Pinot Noir:  14 months in the barrel, 40% new French Oak.  Unfiltered.  Black cherry, wisps of cedar, mocha and black tea.  I have to admit, I am preferenced toward 667 and 777 Dijon clones, and this Pinot has them (and 115). I am also preferenced toward deliciousness, and this wine is that.  For a micro winery (2000 cases total, 425 cases this wine) to make this available at $38 (at the winery) is a bargain.

Stagecoach Vineyard (I did say careful sourcing. He’s been sourcing his Syrah there since 2007) surfaces again in Krutz’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. It has 10% Malbec, spends 20 months in 70% new French oak. For a wine that can be cellared for ten years, I found it drinking now with lush fruit and soft tannins. Again, the wine is neither filtered nor fined, and I expect it to just keep getting better in the bottle.

Krutz had thoughts of entering law, took the LSAT, passed, fell into a love affair with wine and acquired an amazing volume of skill in a short time.  I’m very grateful he did and that his passion is for winemaking. Were Shakespeare alive today, I’m sure he would still have something to say about lawyers and winemakers, but for legal reasons, I won’t even hint at what he might say about lawyers.  

* Visit for mini-tips on wine & food
1301 Cleveland Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

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