February 2023
While the winemakers themselves rightly receive the most credit for their creations, it definitely took a vineyard, likely several, to raise whatever you might have in your glass at the moment. And with land being so expensive, especially in California, most winemakers do not own vineyards. Instead, they depend on close, complicated, symbiotic and sometimes fraught relationships with growers. Some of the latter, like Andy Beckstoffer, are as famous and powerful as any of the vintners they supply; many are tiny, single farmer operations. All contribute crucial ingredients to one of the twenty million or so bottles the state produces each year. 
This month we are trellising two excellent outgrowths of these relationships. Cadre Winery in Edna Valley and Elevated Surfaces in Healdsburg each produce idiosyncratic, highly personal labors of love and memory made possible by close collaboration with their vineyards partners. They also both work with some traditionally Austrian and German varietals which, like so many other non-native grapes, can flourish here given the right Golden State micro-climate. 
Gruner Veltliner (which literally means ‘green grape from the village of Veltlin in the Tirol' in German) is Austria’s most widely planted varietal, and in recent years has come to rival Riesling on wine lists and store shelves around the world. This popularity is pretty easy to understand; it’s hard to make a bad Gruner, and at its best, the grape is age-worthy, capable of wonderful complexity and regional distinctiveness, and pairs well with difficult food matches like artichokes and asparagus. California’s Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County is the coolest climate AVA in the state, with one of the longest growing seasons on the west coast - ideal conditions for great Gruner. Cadre owner John Niven’s roots in the area run deep; his grandfather Jack was a pioneer of Edna Valley viticulture, planting the iconic Paragon Vineyard shortly after John was born. Though his family sold the vineyard, John has continued to work with the manager there and the nearby Jack Ranch Vineyard to produce ‘Band of Stones’, a wonderfully ripe and flavorful New World Gruner that retains all the vital acidity of its Old World inspiration.
Elevated Surface’s Stefan Daniels grew up in the German wine growing region of the Palatinate, and studied Viticulture and Oenology in Weisberg, Germany, before moving to California some 40 years ago to work in the wine business. He is the owner of Kelter wines in Healdsburg, and a Sales and Field Representative for Duarte Nursery, one of the world’s largest permanent crop nurseries, located in the Central Valley. He started Elevated Surfaces  with the twin goals of producing uniquely flavor driven wines from some of California’s best appellations and supporting students in need of financial assistance, via the Claire Daniels Memorial Fund, so named for Stefan’s late daughter, and to which proceeds from the wines are donated.  The Cuvee Laurent Noir comes from the Ricci vineyard in Carneros, which features the only plantings in the state of  Saint Laurent, a highly aromatic, dark-skinned grape that is cross between Pinot Noir and another unidentified grape variety, possibly Savagin. Fittingly, Ricci’s vines were seeded by a rare St. Laurent clone originating in Kallstadt, a town in Stefan’s native Palatinate. His bottling is a fine example of this varietal’s distinctive but approachable and food-friendly charms. 
The PlumpJack Wine Buying Team

Cadre ‘Band of Stones’ Gruner Veltliner 2021

Region / Country of Origin:  Edna Valley, California 

About the winemaking: This Grüner comes from three different SIP Certified Sustainable vineyards in the extreme cool climate of the Edna Valley. The majority of this wine hails from block 168 of the Paragon Vineyard. The block is made up of well drained soils with flecks of limestone and an underlying layer of residual material weathered from sandstone, shale, and mudstone. In 2020, Cadre started to work with Grüner from the Jack Ranch vineyard located on the northwest edge of the AVA lines as well. The vines are planted on one of the steepest sites in the Edna Valley and is made up of some of the sandiest soils in the region. This vintage adds  a new site with the Morro View Vineyard. This vineyard is a few miles deeper into the valley and lays on a small knoll wide open to the ever present coastal winds. 

Tasting Notes: Aromatically this wine leads with a salty citrus edge and white pepper earth tones. Spice defines the vintage and definitely leads the aromatics. It is backed by floral notes of orange blossom and white flowers. The palate features a harmonious balance of ripeness, verve and energy. A base of salty citrus, ginger and white pepper mingle with grapefruit that all lead to a savory zesty finish drenched in minerality. This wine touches both sides of the Grüner spectrum, bright, fresh and vibrant along with texture and a fullness that showcases what makes Edna Valley white wines unique.

Winemaker: John Niven/Shanna Vanderstoel

Price: $24 btl/$259.20

Suggested Food Pairing:


Grilled Asparagus,

Fish And Chips

Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with dill

Chicken with Herb Crusting 

Elevated Surface Cuvée Laurent Noir 2019

Region / Country of Origin: Ricci Vineyard, Carneros, California

About the winery:  Elevated Surface is a small production brand of Kelter Wines, founded in 2017 by Stefan Daniels. With over 40 years of experience in the California wine industry, Stefan has a wealth of knowledge in vine growing and winemaking. From the very start of his career, he believed that "great winemaking starts in the vineyard." For this reason, Stefan sources the grapes for his wines from the Ricci Vineyard, situated south of Sonoma in the Los Carneros region overlooking San Pablo Bay. Working closely with the owner, Dale Ricci, Stefan can ensure that the highest quality grapes are grown for his winemaking. Cold mornings and cool daytime temperatures, combined with loam and alluvial clay soils, create the perfect conditions for Elevated Surface's Saint Laurent, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.

About the winemaking: The grapes ripened very late in the  year, in October, a welcome development. Unfortunately, upon the arrival of the grapes, the winery lost power for five days, necessitating hand sorting and whole cluster transfer to the fermentation bins. This fermentation method, also known as semi-carbonic maceration, occurs from the inside out of the grape berry. The result is an aromatic, elegant wine with lovely spice tones. After a long and slow fermentation, the wine was gently pressed and transferred to the barrel for 14 months of aging.

Tasting Notes: Bright, aromatic with fresh, dark cherries, plum, violets aromas and a hint of five-spice powder note. Soft round tannins with elegant structure and balanced acidity. 

Winemaker: Stefan Daniels

Price: $26

Suggested Food Pairings:

Roast Duck, 

Mushroom Risotto,

Tuna Steak in Lemon and Tomato Sauce

Glazed BBQ Pork Ribs

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