If I were you, I would better watch out! For what’s to come will rupture your daily rhythm.
Know this, friends, we just cannot stop loving brilliant, talent-laden, overproducing human beings. They are rare, gifted crutch-sticks and inspirational trap-boxes that convince us to believe that we can too!
If you have ever had the pleasure of witnessing Jane’s Addiction live in concert (on your preferred, spiritual enhancing stimulant of choice, of course) overtime, one comes to appreciate the beat-Jedi found at the back of the stage that is Stephen Andrew Perkins. A master wizard in the utilization of the drum kit as an existential voice in the rock-band chorus. Man, his moxy is a powerful tempo that punctures the rhythm of life.
Now listen, you Jazz/Latin/Reggae nerds, don’t get all caught up in technical superiority arguments against rock drums within the instrumental genre. We know your opinions and respect them. Just do us a favor you beautiful sophists: take off that Canali coat and tie, kick off those gorgeous Bottega Veneta’s, roll your home-grown spliff, and grab a killer glass of Croix Pinot Noir, and hear us out.
Let’s strip this down to a pocket kit here. A beat is just a beat without its mathematical cadence. On its own, the snare is just a crack, a crack, a crack. On its own, a 10” hanging rack tom is just a bong, a bong, a bong. On its own, a 14” floor tom is just a boom, a boom, a boom. On its own, a bass drum is just a thump, a thump, a thump. But when you start mixing things together, the rendering becomes reality: Crack(d)crack-thu-thump-thump. (d)bonga(d)bonga(d)boom-thu-thump-thump. Crack(d)crack(d)crack-thu-thump-thump. (d)bonga-thu-thump(d)bonga(d)boom-thu-thump-thump. Crack(d)crack-thu-thump-thump. (d)booma(d)crack(d)booma-thump-thump. (d)booma(d)crack-(d)bonga-thu-thump-thump. (d)bonga(d)bonga(d)boom-thu-thump-thump. Feel that? If not, take another drink of that Pinot and know this: you just punctured the rhythm of thought. Seriously. You just stopped and worked that beat. In your head. If you are on your second bottle of Pinot, you may have heard it audibly. Maybe you felt it. Real drummers don’t get technical. Let it flow, please.
Now let’s come down the mountain and step into the point of this rhythm thing. The act of picking up a stick and racking it against anything available that makes sound is to puncture the momentum of mediocrity for this simple reason: in that moment, a choice is made to stand up, grab a tool, and strike an instrument, to puncture the static rhythm of life as it occurs day-in and day-out. Just imagine how liberating it felt to Stephen Perkins when that light went on. Hell, listen to the guy speak about his love for his art, and you know that guy is locked in. Standing in rare air and breathing it all in. A master of his craft. What a beautiful reflection.
Precisely five years ago, we opened our winery doors to visitation after six years of pushing our craft story the hard, lonesome way – one wholesale account at a time. Simply opening the doors to our new winery home was our taking our stick and racking it against an object. Over time we came to realize, we needed to make more wine. (crack(d)crack-thu-thump-thump) We not only needed to make more wine, we needed to make wine for the everyday table. (crack-thu-thump(d)crack-thu-thump-thump) We not only needed to make wine for the table, we needed to make it freakin’ crazy delicious awesome! ((d)booma(d)crack(d)crack(d)thu-thump-thump) Finally, we not only needed to make awesome everyday wine, we needed to allocate all that wine annually and give that allocation a name: Bread & Butter. ((d)bonga(d)thump-(d)bonga(d)boom) That annual allocation event is now in its third year. (thump(d)crack(d)crack-crack-SPLASH) Drop the sticks.
Friends, this is our most anticipated allocation of the year and for so many good reasons. Chief among them is the composition of our kit-set of wines hailing from the 2021 and 2022 vintages. Our goal here is to provide you with guilt-free consumption – that feeling you get when you know you are opening something killer and you don’t think twice about what it cost. This is pure, pleasurable, perfection in your glass.
2021 "1904 Estate" Zinfandel | Croix Estate Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Varieties 90% Old-Vine, Estate Zinfandel, 10% Alicante Bouchet | Method: 100% Pellenc destemmed, 50% Stainless, 50% Open Top, 100% Native Primary & Secondary, 65% New American Oak, Unfiltered.
You have been calling and waiting, calling and waiting, and waiting some more, as the last vintage of our Estate Zinfandel sold out in record time. Well, guess what? If you don’t pick this up now, you may miss your chance to secure an allotment from the spectacular 2021 vintage. If you remember the 2017 vintage of this wine, lookout! The 2021 is humping some serious weight. We will step up and state that this is one of the best renditions we have produced from our estate vineyard. Hands down. Our Croix Estate Vineyard Zinfandel is a heritage vineyard site. Planted in 1904, the original vineyard comprised of 39 acres planted in sections to Zinfandel, Carignan, Alicante Bouchet, Petite Sirah, and Mataro. Today, the vineyard consists of 10 acres of 90% Zinfandel and 10% Alicante Bouchet. Are you a fan of ultra-ripe, jammy Zins with zesty acid and a serious amount of viscosity? This wine is for you. Stunning aromatics, this wine pulls you in with sweet black cherry, ripe boysenberry, blueberry jam and wafting blooms of honeysuckle. Jet black, glass-sheeting ink indicate that you better have a toothbrush and some whitener handy. A liquid silk mouthfeel is full of luscious harmony featuring star anise, lavender honey, black plum, blackberries, concentrated red currants and a ripe, savory finish. Goodness, this wine is delicious!
$50 | 16 Barrels Produced
2021 Floodgate Pinot Noir | The Middle Reach, Russian River Valley
The Vineyards: 33% Starscape (Floodgate) Vineyard | 32% Ritchie Vineyard |21% Bucher Vineyard | 12% Bacigalupi Vineyard | 1% 5 Wells Vineyard | 1% Ruxton Vineyard |Pinot Noir Clones: Dijon 667, Dijon 777, 828, Pommard, Vosne-Romanee, & Wente | Method: 90% Pellenc destemmed, 10% Wholecluster, 5 Day Cold Soak, 100% Carbonic Native Inoculation, Hand Punch Down Cap Submersions, 45% New French Oak, 16 Months. Unfiltered.
IT’S BACK! How can you walk away from a wine that lifts everyone’s spirits? You don’t! What you do is you go back to the drawing board and you make it substantially better. That is precisely what we have done with the 2021 vintage of Floodgate Pinot Noir. Fans of ripe, full-bodied styles will absolutely love what this wine has to offer. Spicy aromas of cinnamon, cardamom, and anise mingle with dark cherry perfume, cola, sweet smoked tobacco leaf, and toasted vanillin. Rich and viscous on the palate, this wine has substantial glide featuring dark black cherry, savory caramel, black plum pie, supported with balanced acidity to lift the wine into a harmonious balance of rich and racy. Look for this delicious Pinot to put on more mid-palate weight over the next three years.
$68 | 17 Barrels Produced
2021 Narrow Gauge Chardonnay | Russian River Valley
The Vineyards: Starscape Vineyard | Ritchie Vineyard | Dutton-Morelli Lane Vineyard | Richard Dinner Vineyard | Bacigalupi Vineyard | Chardonnay Clones: Old Wente, Dijon 76, Clone 4 | Method: Whole Cluster Press Into 50% Neutral, 50% New French Oak, 100% Native Primary & Secondary Fermentation, 9 Months Sur Lie, Rack & Return Aging Total 16 Months, Unfiltered.
Please sir, may I have another! My goodness this wine absolutely over delivers. Another rockstar effort is coming to you and one that you do not want to miss. This is an everyday drinking gem that is stylish, perfectly balanced, and kissed by wine angels. A compilation of big-name vineyards tick-and-tie together like a finely woven blanket bringing quality up more than a few notches. This wine is full and expansive, yet bright and refreshing, producing a balanced, nuanced Chardonnay. Opening with a bouquet of raw honey, marmalade, fresh citrus zest, toasted pine nuts, rocky flints, allspice, toasted oak and lusciousness on the nose that is very inviting. Island ripe pineapple, Honeycrisp apples, stone fruit, and sweet pear leave the mouth watering in a cascade of pleasure. Take this wine to any spring or summer party and you will be an instant wine hero.
$50 | 15 Barrels Produced
2022 Fenceline Sauvignon Blanc | Croix Estate Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Sauvignon Blanc Clones: 100% Sauvignon Musqué | Method: Wholecluster Direct Press Into Neutral French Oak, Native Primary & Secondary Fermentation, Unfiltered.
A super-sexy, summer-sipping dream, our Estate SB is extremely limited in production with a cult following. As we always explain, just two rows exist on our estate, so delightful surprises in small batches continue to impress us from this sliver of vines. Enticing aromas of highly perfumed Amalfi lemons and citrus blossom mingle in with fresh wheat grass, white rose, honeysuckle and gardenia. On the palate, honey infused sweet pink grapefruit, base minerality, and Meyer lemon rind are delicately balanced with bright acidity, creamy nuances, and a touch of barrel vanillin, creating a wonderful textural experience. This wine is lovely, fun, and vibrant. Pack this in a bucket of ice next to the pool and bring a fresh blast of joy into your summer day!
$44 | 5 Barrels Produced
2022 Ruxton Sands Rose' | Ruxton Vineyard, Occidental Cordillera, West Sonoma Coast
Variety: 100% Pinot Noir | Method: Wholecluster Direct Press Into Neutral French Oak, Native Primary & Secondary Fermentation, Unfiltered.
Just down the way from Morelli Lane Vineyard, off of Stoetz Lane, and not so far from Camp Meeker, lies the Ruxton Vineyard.Sitting at 800 feet of elevation in the heart of the Occidental Cordillera of the Russian River Valley appellation, we choose a direct pick and press method when producing our Rosé. Opening with a balanced temperament of verve and ripe fruit, set against a backdrop of light pink salmon color. Aromas of fresh strawberries, pressed sweet Meyer lemon, and hints of honeysuckle draw you in with curiosity. The palate is focused with refreshing and savory acid, raspberries and cola, with a finish that lasts for several minutes.
$33 | 10 Barrels Produced
It was an untimely moment in the short life of a free spirit. An avalanche of powdered ice tore from the mountainside, burying all but the descending rope strand connecting alpinist to alpinist. An ironic passage given both climbers’ propensity to go it alone in the most demanding of alpinist pursuits. This would become a fateful and final position in the foothold of two lives at the cutting edge of their pursuit. To experience the soul at its most pure, undiluted existence is to know the meaning of desire. That thing that makes the pulse quicken. It steals your breath. Lightens your head. Gives pause to reflection upon the notion of having travelled through a quantum passage long before the existence of the moment.
The purity of free solo is found in its isolation, where the focus becomes singular. One is performing a work in self-reliance as there is no rescue from mistake. It is the ultimate freedom and consequence. We can debate the ethics behind the confidence to put down a perfect solo climb. Perhaps such singular focus is at its base a narcissistic pursuit. How many times have visionaries been shunned by the uncomprehending as egocentric? To witness, film, or publicly log such individual pursuits—is this to promote reckless acts?
Be honest with yourselves, you who are among the over achievers. How many times have you ruminated upon the affliction of being driven to perfection? We can attest as winemakers to many hours given to intro-spection whereby we step back and ask, “Who the f*&% do we think we are?” If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of Deepak Chopra’s enlightenment retreats, we say lean into it. He often begins with a shared meditation whereby one is asked by the person sitting adjacent to them, “Who are you?” This goes on within the vulnerability crucible for what seems a lifetime. With each passing repetition upon the question, one becomes acutely aware the shallow veneer that belies a truth within us. Who we are.
You will often hear us speak of our work in the wine business as one of vocation. Becoming a viticulturalist, winemaker, business manager, a proselytizer of profession was never a question. We were just pulled into it.
To make wine is to work. To make wine a work of art is to experience the significance of hard work. It
requires a singular focus upon what you believe your destination in perfection to be. To call that thing forth from desire—now that is knowing oneself, as it is here one will not find rescue from mistake.
We don’t care how many times we hear, no thank you, I don’t like Chardonnay. Our response will always be, have you tasted our Chardonnay? You see, Chardonnay is essentially a flavorless grape.
Were it not for the minds of elite growers and talented winemakers, the variety could—arguably—barely be considered noble without purposeful intervention. And, it is here that we find connection of singular focus and the perils in pursuit of perfection. So powerful is our compulsion that we simply refuse to believe you would not want to engage in the celebration of our creation. Especially when it comes to Chardonnay.
Kind of egocentric when you think about it. Right?
Consequence be damned, it sure feels great to put down an example of our vision for perfection in the glass.
2021 Richard Dinner Chardonnay | Richard Dinner Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain
We weren’t crazy about the first vintage production of this wine. It seemed as though it fell out-of-boundary of scope as it related to our vision for producing West Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley Chardonnay. But leave to the coastal gods to teach us a thing or to about the long arm of coastal influence deep into the reaches of Sonoma County. Sitting at a peak elevation of plus 2,000 feet, facing west to the pacific ocean, directionally speaking, this vineyard lies at the target point of a roundhouse kick to the face of narrow-minded denialism. Those familiar with the Petaluma Gap AVA know that late afternoon breezes can quickly turn to brisk fog-outs that blanket fast swaths of square mileage and Sonoma Mountain lies in its direct path. Few Sonoma County wine regions are so singularly defined by elevation, exposure, and geographical fea- tures as the Sonoma Mountain American Viticulture Area (AVA). The appellation covers the hills east of Sonoma Valley with the Richard Dinner Vineyard planted to Old Wente clone in 1986. Combine soil and micro-climate diurnal temperature variation, organic viticultural practices, a deft hand at coaxing the finer nuances in naturally produced Chardonnay, and you have the recipe for producing perfection in the glass.
The 2021 vintage is a stunning, complex Chardonnay. Notes of tropical flower oil, sweet citrus, refreshing lemon zest, and toasted spices bring forth aromatic bliss. Rich and full-bodied, yet deftly balanced with cleansing acidity, caramel and rum cream that lead to a savory and delicious
balance of ripe pear, charred crème brûlée, and a bright, mouthwatering finish.
$75 | 6 Barrels Produced
2021 12 Rows Chardonnay | Ritchie Vineyard, Middle Reach, Russian River Valley
Many consider this to be one of the greatest Chardonnay vineyards in the new world. Let that sit with you for a moment as you sip and savor the wine in your glass. We find it all too easy to become jaded with our proximity to greatness within our industry. Or, perhaps it is just that the growers we surround ourselves with are just regular, old farmers. Down-to-earth stewards enraptured by a vocation that compels them to work their land. Humility in the face of such admiration is so very refreshing and reminds us that our daily bread is earned, one vintage at a time. All other conditions are unnecessary noise. Let us distill it in this way: we are blessed to be a part of Kent Ritchie’s greatness.
There’s nothing like the smell of an ultraripe, white peach tree just before harvest and this Chardonnay emotes that memory, letting you know with one sniff that pure greatness is at hand. This wine opens with seductive notes of honeyed toast, vanilla crème brûlée and caramelized brown sugar causing the mouth to water with anticipation. The balance of creamy richness and racy delicacy showcases a deft hand in the making of this wine. Lemon curd, loads of white peaches and grapefruit are topped with whipped cream and crisp, honey-baked green apples. Pure perfection in the glass!
$75 | 7 Barrels Produced
2021 Starlings’ Roost Chardonnay | Dutton-Morelli Lane Vineyard, Green Valley, West Sonoma Coast
2012 was the year that Croix manifest as a reality, as the first two barrels of Dutton-Morelli Lane Vineyard Chardonnay were put to rest in the cellar. We were enraptured by this site’s history, location, and the deafening cacophony emanating from thousands of roosting Starlings. Positioned within the Occidental Cordillera, this is home to hallowed earth, revered by many a talented winemaker. Planted in the late 1890’s, it is a temperate vineyard location sitting above the fog line, subject to piercing, midday sunshine, deceiving its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. In our quest to produce Chardonnay that will age for a decade or longer, our production of Starlings’ Roost Chardonnay has proven our postulations regarding lengthening the varietal lifespan.
Honeyed Earl Grey tea, Meyer lemon curd and scents of lightly toasted pine nuts bring us back to the founding vintage of this wine. Sweet pink grapefruit, ripe Gravenstein apples balance sweet and tart to perfection, leading to a round, lengthy finish of Hawaiian pineapple, cinnamon, cloves and a dash of toasty vanillin. Medium bodied, yet light on the palate without the cloying viscosity often found in Chardonnay. Another glass please!
$75 | 6 Barrels Produced
Whispering shadows clung to the walls like twisted cypress on a rugged, cold coast. It was 3:30 am. The arctic sun was in full attention and without warmth. The fire had gone out in a northern, Nordland County cabin. No heating. No electricity. No running water. A different culture had taken over the decision-making process of what was safe. The men here are thoroughbreds – narcissist wunderkind, watermen, hardened sailors of unforgiving seas – and focused on making one last push into the water. They were also determined to finish initiating the visiting American. “Våkn opp!! Now is time we fish. But first we dive Saltstraumen!” Dry suits, weight belts, air tanks, and thickened snow boots raked across an icy single-track trail. Our breath was blurry, viscous, and laden with the prior evening’s drunken, aquavit laden tussle. The diving watch didn’t lie – two hours of sleep. There was no way we were sober. This was not safe. This was not sound. This was an insane right of passage.
Ask any Dive Master, “What’s the most dangerous form of scuba diving one can do?” “Scuba diving drunk.” Even slightly intoxicated diving can be deadly. It is grounds for disqualification among your diving group. An expulsion off the boat for irresponsible, unserious adherence to safety.
Scuba diving the Saltstraumen in Norway – in any condition - is the temptation of fate not to be taken without serious, sober consideration. Yet, those born with an innate, ambitious drive know all too well that logic often falls to emotion when called to rise in the moment. We assume we can handle it.
Fact is, intelligent people behave dumbly when challenged. And, so it is here at Croix Estate. Intelligent, insightful, earnest people who exhibit just enough moxy to get sucked into the vortex of pursuing perfection.
10 years ago we started this Croix Estate thing with fifty cases of Chardonnay and fifty cases of Pinot Noir. Russian River Valley would be our focus in a heady pursuit. Look at us now. Rowing deeper into the dark, brooding waters, falling to the Sirens on the rocky shoreline of Coastal Pinot Noir. For goodness sakes, what are we thinking?
We remember what we used to say about coastal Pinot Noir. “Yummy!! Super-sour cherry pie. How many scoops of sugared cream would you like with that to make it palatable?” But here we are. We have cleansed our faces of many eggs, my friends. We are pushing deeper into our destiny, and it now includes the northern reaches of California.
It begins here, with the allocation of 2019 Kings Ridge Pinot Noir from the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. This is rugged, beautiful country folks. A supreme location where we intend to wrest pure, ripe, balanced and pleasurable mountain Pinot Noir from the rugged soil in which it is grown.
This is risky business. Våkn opp!! Now is time to fish. But first we dive Saltstraumen!
Debut Vintage - Croix 2019 Kings Ridge Pinot Noir | Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast | Acquire Your Allocation Here
In Burgundy, France, the highest level of vineyard classification is Grand Cru, or those appellations that are considered the elite within the growing region. While California does not have such a classification system, if ever there were an “elite” vineyard classification system within the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations, Cinghiale Vineyard would sit squarely within this classification. Purchased by Dave Del Dotto in 2005, the “Cinghiale” (Italian for wild boar) Vineyard is named for the frequent inhabitants of the property.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it consists of 359 acres at the top of Kings Ridge in the Fort Ross-Seaview appellation, and is planted with 43 acres of Pinot Noir, with remaining parts Syrah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. It features a broad diversity of Pinot Noir clones with lineages hailing from the top vineyards in Burgundy, as well as select top-rated clones from its neighbors in California.
Located in the coastal hills above Fort Ross State Historic Park, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Fort-Ross Seaview is one of Sonoma County’s most distinctive AVAs in our opinion. Carved out of the larger Sonoma Coast AVA in 2011, the 27,500-acre Fort Ross-Seaview AVA was given special consideration for its soaring elevation and remote, rugged location, where its current 500 vineyard acres produce some of Sonoma County's most sought-after Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The area bears significant historical weight as it was here that Sonoma County's first winegrapes were planted in 1817 at the fur-trading Russian-American Company's outpost at Fort Ross.
The area's modern viticultural history didn't begin until 1973, though, when sheep rancher Mick Bohan, struggling with low wool prices, planted Riesling as a cash crop. Today, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay plantings dominate the AVA. To understand Fort Ross-Seaview, picture a vineyard on the crown of a coastal ridge, surrounded by a sea of fog. Although the AVA is located just a few miles from cold Pacific Ocean waters, between Jenner and The Sea Ranch, it is also significantly defined by its higher elevation. In the summer, vineyards bask in warm sunlight, sitting above the damp belt of fog that invades the Petaluma Gap and Russian River Valley. Fort Ross-Seaview is an essentially chilly climate on the edge of grape-growing possibility, yet, at times, may receive more sunlight than areas like Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, which is defined by immersion in fog. For this reason, we feel confident that to not establish a winegrowing front in this emerging region is to miss the opportunity to produce Pinot Noir from what will no doubt become California’s premier winegrowing region for Pinot Noir.
We pick from two distinct blocks within the Cinghiale Vineyard where Pinot Noir clones 777 and 828 comprise the blocks. Clone 777 is built to age, with dense, complex, highly structured tannins, complemented by exotic spice aromas, black cherry and cassis flavors with silky texture. Clone 828 has elegant, structured tannins with balanced acidity and brooding dark fruit. Fermenting the two blocks separately provides an ideal opportunity to blend the final output to balanced perfection.
Among our most substantial, complex wines within our mix of single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, this wine is a rare beauty. Raw honey and crème de cassis hit the senses, quickly leading to licorice, black cherries, sweet tobacco leaf, blue herbs, cream soda, cardamom and coconut. On the palate this wine is massive and full-bodied with blueberry compote, candied raspberries, plum concentrate, bittersweet
cocoa and crushed espresso bean, with mouthwatering acidity and a perpetual finish. Delicious!
Degrees Picked: Pinot Noir Clone 777—26.2 | Pinot Noir Clone 828—24.4
Method | Pellenc Destemmed, 5 Day Cold Soak, 10% Wholecluster (Clone 828) 20% Wholecluster (Clone 777) 100% Carbonic Native & D254 Inoculation, Open Top Fermentation With Cap Submersion (Clone 777) and Hand Punch Down (Clone 828)
Aging | 16 Months, 50% New French Oak
Production | 7 Barrels
Clarifying | Barrel To Tank, Bottled Unfiltered
List Price—$95 |