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Croix Estate

Jason Williams
April 1, 2024 | Jason Williams

SPRING 2024 | Horse Broncin' Rodeo Clown | Our 4th Annual Bread & Butter Allocation

My initial dislike for the ranch life came early in my childhood. Perhaps it was the ever present mushy Ochra on the daily table, the persistent smell of fresh steer manure that never washed out of my clothes, or the 4:00 am strip-the-bed wake up calls. I was pure city folk in this neck of the woods, and my next-of-kin reveled in demonstrably overt acts of torture in what would have been an otherwise noteworthy experience in my formative years. What they failed to comprehend was, despite my polished veneer, I was a child of grit too. Just because I didn’t know the difference between a latigo and a flank cinch, didn’t mean I couldn’t grasp how to saddle a horse to protect a rider’s ass!

Of course, Uncle Gerald didn’t give two rocks about ranch politics, to him, all hands were good hands, and those hands were put to work. He was a guy who made John Wayne seem wimpy by comparison. If the Marlboro Man was real (wait, he was, wasn’t he?) well, that was Gerald. He woke up with a permanent, hand-rolled cigarette in his mouth with one eye closed to keep the smoke out. Checkered shirts, wranglers, a sweat-stained Stetson, grizzled logger’s hands, and boots that walked 100 miles a day. Those boots just knew where to go, sun-up to sun-down. In the spirit of breaking me in, when his lead shepherd gave birth to a litter of future herd keepers, he called me over, picked up a pup, tossed me a hand axe, laid the tail out on a wood block, and said, “Chop right here.”

The fond memories for me were born first in the kitchen where my grandmother started russlin’ breakfast at 3:30 am. Farm fresh eggs, bacon as thick as a belt, her homemade-buttermilk biscuits, and bacon-grease gravy. To this day, I love an American breakfast. You did not go hungry in my grandmother’s house, and you did not get up from the table until your plate was clean.

My favorite part of any meal on the ranch was sitting next to my grandfather. He was a World War II Army veteran who covered North Africa, Sicily, and up into the heart of Rome in the defeat of Mussolini. When he entered the room, everyone shut up, stood up, held hands, and said grace. Upon sitting, he would pull out a packet of loose-cut Redman tobacco, a pack of Zig-Zags, and roll a smoke. He would hand it to me and say, “Light it up, slick.” To which my grandmother would wrap the sink with a wooden spoon and proclaim, “Damit, Frank!” This would always draw a Texas sized smile across his face and a wink, as if to say, “Boy howdy, we got ‘er again!”

Slick. That was the nickname they gave me. I know it was meant as a derogatory slight, but I always wore it with a sense of pride because it meant I was different from the rest, even if not in a meaningful way. Truth is, I busted my ass in my duties just so I could have extra time at the end of the day to grab my 20 gauge and wonder into the washes to collect a full quiver of quail for the dinner table. Despite the hard work and social isolation within a big family, I loved the outdoors and the freedoms the country provided for a kid, like me, with such a creative imagination. It was here that I could run wild, if only for a summer.

I fondly recall the days of rodeo when the JC Rodeo of Rodeo’s would put on its Annual Competition. My grandfather could see my love and excitement for horse broncin’ competitions. One day, he talked his friend, Orvil Jr., into letting me in the ring to run around with the rodeo clowns. Looking back, I now see how this was a metaphor for how my family saw me, but I believe my grandfather’s heart was in the right place. Clowning was right up my alley. I was small, light and quick on my feet, and I could hop over a gate like a jackrabbit if needed. The thing that struck me most was the presence of those large horses kickin’ like hell to get the guys off their backs. You could see those broncs wanted nothing to do with being saddled and ridden by anyone. If anything, the experience unleashed my wild horse within. I became a believer in the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do and I would find the will to run over anyone who got in my way. This brings me to my time at Croix Estate.

You know, this all started in 2009 with an abalone dive and a blind tasting of some of the world’s finest Pinot Noirs. And, wouldn’t you know it, my stubborn streak just took over. I never really asked Kirk Venge for directions to take on the project, I just jumped into the ring, rubbed some dirt on my gloves to grip-up, and got to work. I firmly believed that we could make something special in Sonoma County. I guess it’s appropriate to see the correlation of being the city slicker in true wine country. However, I got my start in Healdsburg just out of college, back when it was just a small horse town. If there is one thing I know, I know pure country, real farmers, and people with raw grit when I meet them. These Sonoma County folk are the real deal. Call me slick all day long. Sonoma County is where I feel at home.

Speaking of home. When you are with us, you are home. And, when it comes to our Annual Bread & Butter Allocation, we roll out the red carpet for all of our allocation list members, providing you with family pricing on orders of 12 bottles or more. Frankly, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the joy we find at Croix Estate than to see you smile and pull the cork on another delicious bottle of wine. Drink up folks, this one is for you.

As always, my gratitude runs deep for your appreciation for all that we do.

Acquire Your Allocation Here

2022 1904 Estate Old Vine Zinfandel | Croix Estate Vineyard, Russian River Valley

Varieties: 90% Estate Zinfandel, 10% Estate Alicante Bouchet | Method: 100% Pellenc destemmed, 50% Stainless, 50% Open Top, 100% Native Primary & Secondary, 55% New American Oak, 45% French Oak. Unfiltered. 16 Barrels Produced

We sold out, yet again, of another vintage of our Estate Zinfandel. So, here is the deal: If you don’t pick this up now, you may miss your chance to secure an allotment from the spectacular 2022 vintage, as demand has tripled in just 12 months. If you remember the 2016 vintage of this wine, lookout! The 2022 is humping some serious weight. This is another home run effort from our winemaking team. 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. Get ready to bliss all over yourselves, the aromatics are exotic and compelling with cocoa perfume, sweet cedar smoke, crushed black plumbs, sweet honeysuckle, blueberry, candied raisins and figs, and milk chocolate. Whoa Nelly! The palate is massive and concentrated, yet masterfully balanced, highlighting cherry reduction, seductive fig pie, caramel, layered blue fruits, espresso beans, finishing silky with racy acidity to clear the finish for minutes on end. A stunning work to contemplate. Don’t miss this.


2022 Floodgate Pinot Noir | Russian River Valley

The Vineyards: 33% Bacigalupi Vineyard | 32% Ritchie Vineyard |21% Bucher Vineyard | 12% 5 Wells Vineyard | 2% 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, 50% New French Oak, 16 Months. Unfiltered. 17 Barrels Produced

This wine just keeps getting better and better. Like playing a finely tuned, hand-made Gibson, our 2022 Floodgate Pinot will take your breath away. The nose opens with fresh strawberry patch, blue herbs, spiced red currants, black cherry, cinnamon, white rose oil, and hints of exotic mushrooms. Wow! What on earth is this!? This is another level of full-bodied greatness! Stunning and complex on the palate, opening with dark cocoa, strawberry rhubarb, candied pecans, cherry cola, tangy citrus marmalade, and viscous Maple syrup. This is sexy stuff! Rich and full on the palate, this wine has substantial glide that will develop impressive weight over the next three to five years.


2022 Narrow Gauge Chardonnay | Russian River Valley

The Vineyards: Sebastopol 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. 15 Barrels Produced

Dear, sweet angels, take us home and pour your golden, Narrow Gauge nectar in our glass, because we have found heaven! Another unbelievable 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 a real joy to consume. It is our most complex Narrow Gauge Chardonnay to date. Opening with a bouquet of raw honey, bananas foster, tropical paradise and coconut oil, with hints of fermented anise, lemon méringue and toasted pralines, this wine can best be described as Hawaii in a glass! On the palate we find a full expansion of toffee, butterscotch, zesty green apple, key lime, charred sugar, and vanilla custard that leaves the mouth lathered in long moments of raw pleasure. Want to be a wine hero? Take this wine to any spring or summer party and watch people bow in reverence of your genius. Trust us.


2023 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. 5 Barrels Produced

Ahh…Spring bliss is here and demands a bucket of ice next to your chair on the beach! Get ready for easy drinkin’ days to come. We don’t know about you, but we cannot get enough of our Fenceline Sauvignon Blanc. Each year brings forth something different and boy do we have a home run in the 2023 vintage! Exotic spice box, limestone, wheat grass, and coconut oil open the senses on the first pass over the glass. What is this? Passion fruit, celery, grindelia and lemon blossom pull you into a state of wonderment. On the palate we find our senses are deceived by full, silky, sweet pink grapefruit, blood orange rind, and lemon curd with a lengthy, bright and balanced finish. The acid carries the plushness of the wine brilliantly. At just 125 cases produced, you will want to scoop up as much of this wine as you can before it sells out. 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!


2023 Ruxton Sands Rose' of Pinot Noir | Ruxton Vineyard, Sonoma Coast

Variety: 100% Pinot Noir | Method: Wholecluster Direct Press Into Neutral French Oak, Native Primary & Secondary Fermentation, Unfiltered. 10 Barrels Produced

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 from Ruxton Vineyard. The first thing you notice is the sexy, pale peach color of this wine, evoking an assumption of greatness in the glass. This is a compelling effort that will challenge the senses. Opening with white peach, ripe plantains, bruised rose petals, and candied walnuts, this wine has a balanced temperament of verve and ripe fruit. A bright entry on the palate is followed by a medium-full mid-palate that is at once viscous yet delicate. This is delicious! Strawberry curd, mineral, and golden pear are complimented with refreshing, savory nuances of raspberries and cola, with a finish that is developed and elegant. Spectacular!


Acquire Your Allocation Here


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