120 Years of Santa Cruz Mountain Heritage
Deep in Santa Cruz’s primal redwoods, the Storrs family has strong roots, continuing a nearly 120-year-old tradition of producing mind-bendingly elegant Pinot Noirs. If you’re new to the wines of Santa Cruz Mountains, this is the place you need to start. Your price tag for the region’s superstars, like Ridge and Clos de la Tech, could hit triple digits, but Storrs Pinot is your best bet for price-quality ratio. “This is a great wine at a price that’s a bit more accessible than many similar bottlings from the region,” Wine Enthusiast raved in its 94-point review, calling this 2013 “immediately likable on the palate.” Likable on the wallet, too, at just $34.99 per bottle. We’ve secured 56 cases for Wine Access cold-climate Pinot lovers.
West of Apple’s futuristic Cupertino campus lies one of California’s oldest and best-kept wine winegrowing secrets: the Santa Cruz Mountains. Surrounded by redwoods, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines thrive 800 feet above the nearby Pacific in stunningly picturesque vineyards.
If you’re walking through one of these beautiful parcels, pack warm clothes; thick fog and dappled sunlight anchor the daily forecast for one of California winegrowing’s most marginal climates. In 1988, the Storrs’ saw the potential to make great Pinot Noir in this bracing, Burgundian climate, but the Santa Cruz Mountains’ history of world-class wine starts long before that.
When E.H. Rixford planted a 40-acre vineyard here in 1884, he saw the Burgundian potential, taking the great chateaux of France for his inspiration. Cuttings from Rixford’s property were used to propagate Ridge’s heralded Monte Bello plot, which Paul Draper brought to international fame. Other pioneers like Martin Ray, whose property was absorbed into today’s Mount Eden Vineyards, helped secure the Santa Cruz Mountains’ reputation on the world stage.
Stephen and Pamela Storrs have continued and contributed to this proud tradition. The UC Davis graduates spent their early careers working for larger-production houses like Almaden and Domaine Carneros that sourced grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains. By the late 1980s, they knew the region well enough to go it alone, producing their first vintage with purchased fruit. The couple agreed that this cool, marginal climate had the deepest affinity for Burgundian varieties, and chose to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Almost 30 years later, they now own significant acreage in the tiny Corralitos district, and have committed to organic and biodynamic farming practices.
The 2013 Storrs Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot was harvested in late September on the chilly western slopes of Mount Madonna. How cold? The Storrs’ property is a low Region 1 on the Winkler index, a standard scale for measuring vineyards’ warmth. For contrast, the Russian River, often held up as “cool climate” California, is a high 2. The frigid weather forces long hang times and naturally low yields of 2.5 tons. These factors, as well as deft touch in the winery, conspire to create a heightened, regal elegance in this Storrs Pinot, rarely found to such a degree in the New World.