|Article number:||Cruse Monkey Jacket 18|
|Availability:||In stock (21)|
Quaffable, quirky, and uniquely Californian: Michael Cruse's winemaking philosophy in a nutshell. A resident of Petaluma since the age of 10, his blue-collar background remains central to the wines he makes, backed up with formidable technical skills. Aspiring to be a scientist, he studied biochemistry at UC Berkeley, where he got his first taste of wine science at a lecture by Terry Leighton (the microbiologist who owns Kalin Cellars.) He was admitted to the UC Davis master's program in enology and viticulture, but took a job at Sutter Home first, where the physical work of the cellar won over his heart. He never made it to Davis, instead working as associate winemaker at Starmont, before launching Cruse Wine Co. out of a warehouse across the street from Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma in 2013. In a scene where the focus is often either on high-end cabernet or high-acid European-inspired wines, Cruse's wines remain exuberantly drinkable, accessible, and table-friendly, while also being complex and unique. This is perfectly summed up in his relationship with the valdiguié grape, a cornerstone of Napa's past. Known as "Napa gamay" in the early 20th century, it was the base for less-exacting wines mimicking French Beaujolais. Of the 950 acres in Napa in 1973, only 21 remain, and Cruse's vineyards are among those still standing. Like gamay, valdiguié is generous and fruitful, but fuller-bodied in character. This red blend (named for a short jacket historically worn by sailors) is a glorious dance of that historic valdiguié with touches of carignan, syrah and others. Energetic aromas of cranberry and violets evolve into a palate of bright citrus and soft tannins. Juicy, fresh, chewy, textured, this wine evokes a truly Californian joie de vivre. Organically grown, low-intervention, vegan.