At its core, Grand Cru Custom Crush founded by Robert and Erin Morris and Todd and Erin Gottula, is a great idea, one that reflects modern day business and lifestyle trends. It provides state-of-the-art technology and production equipment as well as individualized tasting rooms to be shared by small, boutique winemakers. The co-operative concept itself is clean and efficient and opens doors for producers who work under the premise that “less is better” to pursue their passion and connect with the consumer. Grand Cruprojects t
hat, in 2018, 25,000 cases will be produced by a baker’s dozen local winemakers who are current members.
As we toured the production facilities, Morris and Erin Brooks(Gottula) discussed the attention to detail that would accommodate multiple winemakers and reduce common problems. By providing the best crush equipment, a variety of small fermentation tanks, barrel rooms and an on-site lab, all designed to match the needs of their “target client production,” the Grand Cru Custom Crush plan optimizes success and sustainability.
Although the exterior design was inspired by the Boradorri Garage, a 1932 historical building overlooking the ocean in Cayucos, CA, the modern-day, aesthetically pleasing interior includes several individual spaces where guests can sample specific wineries or hand-pick a variety among all member releases.
Another advantage for Grand Cru Custom Crush is that they are part of the growing Windsor Beverage District that currently houses DuMol and Marcassin wineries with others on the horizon. Participating businesses also include the Sonoma Brothers Distillery, local fire captain Aron Levin’s St. Florian’s Brewery and Tilted Shed Ciderworks, makers of local specialty ciders. A 22,000 square foot restaurant and tasting center, currently under construction by the popular, Santa Rosa-based Russian River Brewing Company, promises to add another attraction.
Robert and Erin could not say enough about their experience in dealing with the Town of Windsor, calling them a role model for other government entities seeking to be business friendly and creating public-private partnerships. The beverage district concept, in my opinion, will flourish, building on the wine and spirits tourism that exists in the region.
The current member wineries of Grand Cru Custom Crush are Black Kite Cellars, Bruliam Wines, Bydand, Cleary Ranch Vineyard, Ernest Wines, Eric Kent, Flambeaux, Kesner Wines, Lando, Magnolia Blossom, Mila Family Vineyards, Mueller Wines and Smith and Story Wine Cellars. Some have received accolades for pinot noir, chardonnay and rose’ while others offer rarer varietals to the region like grenache, sémillon, and cabernet sauvignon.
Reservations can be made to taste wines from any of the members or one can experience an eclectic sampling from a hand-picked menu. I had the opportunity to sit down with Erin Brooks to sample all the current releases from Ernest Wines, which she owns with
her husband Todd. They will be featured in a future column. However, if I returned to Grand Cru tomorrow, I would hand-select the following wines.
Produced by Ernest Wines under their Eugenia label, a little known Rhone grape is showcased in the 2017 San Lucas Vineyard Rosé of Cinsault 2017 Central Coast “The Country Wife,” providing a unique beginning. The 2016 Smith and Story Lakota’s View Sémillon Sonoma Mountain gives us an alternative white varietal and the whole-cluster pressed Mila Family Vineyards Prima Grenache an alternative red from their 54 acre wine farm in northeast Sonoma County.
We would continue by comparing two pinot noir releases: the 2014 Mueller “Tempi” Pinot Noir that has received good reviews and the 2014 Bruliam Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard from a Central Coast vineyard that has sourced grapes to many fine producers.
My tasting would end with the 2014 Flambeaux Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that has received consistent 90+plus ratings. It’s not everyday that cinsault, semillon,
grenache, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon would be together in one tasting. The quality and variety of member produced wines affords opportunities to sample new ones for many future visits.
The Grand Cru Custom Crush is an ambitious effort that seems to be a win-win situation for all aspects of the wine experience. It promotes the expanded production of fine boutique wines and one stop shopping for the consumer. The evolution of Grand Cru and the entire Windsor Beverage District is something to watch.