At Christopher Cellars, sustainability isn't just a buzzword; it's a way of life. One of the innovative practices we've implemented is the introduction of sheep into the Bartholomew Family Vineyard located onsite the winery property. This may seem unconventional, but it offers a range of benefits that align perfectly with our commitment to the environment and the quality of our wines. Hal Bartholomew a 5th generation of Bartholomew who has lived in Elk grove, gets alittle tickled about that fact that sheep are back on his property due to fact his father used have sheep grazing the land for many years. There is something to say about going back to "old school" practices when discussing weed management.
Natural Weed Control: Sheep are excellent grazers, munching on weeds and cover crops that can compete with vines for water and nutrients. By allowing sheep to roam the vineyard, we reduce the need for harmful herbicides, promoting a healthier ecosystem within our vineyard.
Fertilization: Sheep naturally fertilize the soil as they graze, depositing valuable nutrients that enrich the vineyard's microbial life. This natural form of fertilization enhances soil health, which in turn improves grape quality and vineyard sustainability.
Erosion Control: Sheep's hooves help to aerate the soil and promote water infiltration, reducing the risk of erosion. This is particularly beneficial on hillsides where erosion control is crucial for preserving the integrity of the vineyard.
Reduced Carbon Footprint: By using sheep for weed control and fertilization, we reduce the need for heavy machinery, which decreases our carbon footprint. This aligns with our commitment to sustainable practices and minimizing our environmental impact.
Enhanced Biodiversity: Introducing sheep into the vineyard promotes biodiversity by creating a more dynamic ecosystem. Their presence encourages the growth of beneficial insects and microbes, which can help control pests naturally.
Improved Vineyard Aesthetics: Beyond their practical benefits, sheep are darn cute! I get to walk the vineyard every morning watching the the new lamb hop around. Our three children; Aislyn, Avery and Damian just love going out there to try and pet and feed them grass.
In conclusion, bringing sheep into the vineyard is a sustainable and eco-friendly practice that aligns perfectly with our values at Christopher Cellars. It not only benefits the environment but also contributes to the quality and character of our wines. We're proud to be pioneers in this innovative approach, and we look forward to continuing to explore new ways to enhance our vineyard's sustainability.
Randy, a respected wine writer, recently wrote an amazing article about our winery, highlighting our 2022 Christopher Cellars Lodi Grand Cuvée. This wine, a blend of Carignan, Zinfandel, and Cinsault, recently won Best of Class and has been receiving high praise.
In his article, Randy praised our Co-owner and winemaker, Christopher Mora, for his skill in crafting a wine that truly represents the essence of Lodi. He noted that the use of these classic Mediterranean varietals in our blend showcases the best of what Lodi has to offer, with each grape bringing its own unique characteristics to the wine.
Randy also mentioned our winemaking techniques, such as native yeast fermentation and minimal oak influence, which allow the grapes' natural flavors to shine through. He highlighted the wine's vibrant fruit flavors, balanced acidity, and velvety texture, making it a standout in the world of Lodi wines.
If you're interested in reading Randy's full article and learning more about our award-winning wines, I encourage you to visit his blog page. His words truly capture the essence of Christopher Cellars and the passion we have for crafting exceptional wines.
At Christopher Cellars, we are thrilled to share the exciting news that all five of our entered wines have not only stood their ground but have emerged triumphant at the prestigious 2024 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This annual event, featuring over 5,500 wines from nearly 1,000 wineries, is a testament to the fierce competition and high standards within the industry. Let's raise a glass to a clean sweep!
“Best of Class” Winner! Introducing the 2022 Grand Cuvée ($30.00), our latest blend that masterfully combines Carignan from Mule Plane Vineyard, Cinsault from Sprague Family Vineyard, and Zinfandel from Stampede Vineyard – three renowned Lodi vineyards celebrated for exceptional quality. This unique blend captures the essence of Lodi, going beyond a mere combination of grapes to represent the region itself. Carignan brings refreshing acidity, Zinfandel contributes robust structure and rich mouthfeel, and Cinsault adds enchanting perfume. Recognized as "Best of Class" in this prestigious wine competition, The Grand Cuvée invites a sensorial journey into Lodi's heart, showcasing its distinctive features with layers of fruit, velvety texture, and captivating aromatics. Each component is explored, highlighting the legacy of Mule Plane Vineyard, the purity of Sprague Family Vineyard, and the unique expression of Zinfandel from Stampede Vineyard. The Grand Cuvée is not just a wine; it's a celebration of Lodi's viticultural heritage and the artistry of Christopher in crafting a blend that truly captures the essence of this exceptional winegrowing region.
Earning the prestigious "Double Gold" designation is our fourth vintage, the Chardonnay ($32.00), Lodi AVA. A labor of love, this wine is aged in an innovative blend of 30% stainless steel tank, 40% neutral French oak, and 30% new French oak, achieving a sublime balance and finesse. Harvested at three distinct pick points in the vineyard, the meticulous approach results in a captivating and nuanced expression of our Chardonnay.
Our 2021 Carignan ($38.00) from the Mule Plane Vineyard has secured the prestigious "Gold" award, a testament to its exceptional quality. This historical vineyard cated in the Mokelumne River AVA. Mule Plane Vineyard is managed by John Shinn and boasts own-rooted Carignan vines dating back to the late 1920s. Certified as Lodi Rules Sustainable, the vineyard benefits from a mild Mediterranean climate and optimal exposure to delta breezes. Unfortunately, this wine is now sold out, highlighting the demand for our outstanding offerings. We will be bottling the 2022 Vintage Febraury 13th 2024. Be on the look out during the 2024 Thanksgiving wine release.
We proudly add two more Silver awards to our collection. The 2022 Zinfandel Cuvée ($28.00) and the 2022 Duet Blend ($35.00), both from the Lodi Appellation, showcase the diversity and skill embedded in our winemaking process.
We will be featuring these wines at the San Franisco Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting. This event will take place at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, on Feb 17th 2024 from 1:30-4:30pm. Tickets available here.
Christopher Cellars proudly participated in the prestigious Grand Tasting event hosted by ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) on January 27th. For those discovering ZAP for the first time, it stands as a dedicated force in preserving, educating, and fostering an appreciation for Zinfandel. This grape holds a unique position in our cultural and historical tapestry, and through ZAP, we celebrate its global significance.
Our passion for Zinfandel runs deep, rooted in the Lodi Appellation, where 40% of California's old vines thrive. The rich history of these vineyards in our backyard is a constant source of excitement and inspiration.
At the Grand Tasting, we proudly unveiled our 2022 Zinfandel Cuvée from Lodi AVA, a meticulously crafted blend sourced from two exceptional Zinfandel vineyards: Cherryhouse and Stampede, owned by Jeff and John Perlegos. Our aim was to showcase the distinctiveness of the Lodi Appellation by harnessing the unique qualities of the Clements Hills AVA and Mokelumne River AVA. Stampede vineyard Zinfandel, harvested at lower brix levels (22.5-23.5), imparts heightened tannins, increased acidity, and vibrant red fruit tones. In contrast, Cherryhouse vineyard, nestled in the Mokelumne River AVA, is picked slightly riper (24.5-25 brix), contributing black fruit characteristics, plush tannins, and a delicate balance between fresh and ripe fruit notes, complemented by subtle earthiness. The marriage of these two vineyards results in a well-balanced wine that harmoniously blends the structural elements from Stampede with the juicy fruit and richness from Cherryhouse—a true representation of the Lodi Appellation.
Additionally, we showcased our single vineyard designated wine, Zinfandel Cherryhouse Vineyard. This expression beautifully captures the essence of the Mokelumne River AVA, with clusters resembling tight grenades, producing wines that boast rich fruit, silky tannins, and hints of earthiness.
In a recent feature titled "Letters From Lodi," Randy Caparoso explores the evolution of California Zinfandel, spotlighting the resurgence of this varietal, largely credited to the efforts of ZAP. Caparoso underscores ZAP's pivotal role in preserving old vine Zinfandel plantings and reshaping perceptions of the varietal. In this narrative, Christopher Cellars is commended for embracing a "new" low-intervention style, allowing the true essence of the grape to shine through native yeast fermentation and minimal oak influence. The 2021 Christopher Cellars Zinfandel from Cherryhouse Vineyard is specifically hailed as quintessentially fragrant and flowery, embodying a sleek, vibrant, acid-driven medium body—a departure from the historical perception of Zinfandel as exclusively "jammy."
Vineyard Spotlight - Nestled amidst the captivating landscapes of Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA, the Cherryhouse Vineyard stands as a meticulously tended terroir, weaving a vibrant tapestry for Zinfandel enthusiasts. Crafted with passion by brothers Jeff and John Perlegos, this viticultural gem transforms its terrain into a sanctuary for head-trained vines, firmly rooted in the sandy loam below. Beyond its meticulous management, Cherryhouse distinguishes itself with the intriguing character it bestows upon its Zinfandel. Clusters resembling tight grenades, each cradling small berries, promise an abundance of flavor—a visual and gustatory spectacle that consistently excites us. Dating back to the 1970s, Cherryhouse has witnessed the evolution of winemaking, recently embracing organic farming, a commitment that speaks to the Perlegos brothers' dedication and contributes to the overall uniqueness of their wines.
Vintage Highlights - In the winegrowing region of Lodi Appellation, the 2022 vintage unfolded amid nearly ideal conditions, marked by abundant early-season rains and superb spring and summer weather. However, an unexpected, record-breaking frost in mid-spring significantly reduced crop sizes. Challenges persisted with a Labor Day heat event, bringing unprecedented high temperatures. Despite these adversities, the 2022 wines are anticipated to exhibit heightened concentration and power compared to the previous vintage, influenced by both the spring frost and the Labor Day heatwave. Despite the twists and turns of the year, consumers can still eagerly anticipate savoring exceptional wines from the 2022 vintage.
Winemaking Insights - The 2022 vintage presented challenges due to Labor Day heatwaves. Balancing the desire for phenological maturity without overripeness was crucial. The resilience of old vines in handling nature's curveballs proved remarkable. This Zinfandel was harvested at 23.5 brix, with a two-day cold soak boosting it to 24.5 brix. Native fermentation was initiated after warming up the must. Employing a novel winemaking technique, delestage, proved instrumental. This involved aggressively emptying the liquid part of the must from the fermentation tank and then pumping it back over the solid remnants, enhancing the extraction of anthocyanins and polyphenols. Christopher attributes the mouthfeel and richness of the wine to this technique.
Tasting Experience - The 2022 vintage from Cherryhouse continues the legacy, offering a fragrance that echoes the essence of cherries and berries with a nuanced twist. Darker berry tones, reminiscent of black cherries, dance on the nose, complemented by subtle hints of organic earthiness. As the wine graces the palate, these earthy notes gain strength, adding layers of complexity to the overall tasting experience. Savoring a Zinfandel that intricately reflects its terroir is undeniably charming, and Cherryhouse effortlessly delivers on that promise. The 2022 vintage stands as a testament to the Perlegos brothers' unwavering commitment to their craft and the land they cultivate.
Tasting Notes - The 2022 Zinfandel grown from Cherryhouse Vineyard entices with a seductive array of aromatics, weaving together black plum, black cherry, fresh cracked pepper, and delicate floral notes. On the palate, a luscious symphony unfolds, introducing a hint of vanilla, juicy blackberries, black currant, and the mineral essence of river rock. The wine's sophistication shines through with a bright and fresh finish, subtly tannic, leaving a lasting impression.
Coming Soon- Release Date: February 24, 2024
Wine Club Member Exclusive: With only four barrels produced, wine club members are invited to the tasting room to Join us at the tasting room for an exclusive preview, where you will be the first to enjoy the subtle nuances of this exceptional wine before it is officially released.