Krutz Family Cellars is artisan micro-winery in Sonoma County making wines from some of the most prized vineyards throughout Northern California. We hope you join us in our San Francisco store tonight (Thursday, May19) at 5pm to taste current releases with founder/winemaker (and all-around nice guy) Patrick Krutz.
How did you get into the wine business?
With no intention at all in being in the wine business, especially production, I moved out from my home state of Mississippi in 2002. When landing in CA for the first time in my life on July 4th, 2002 at The Cheese Shop in downtown Carmel, I can honestly say I knew as much about cheese and wine as I did about quantum physics. Little did I know it would prove to be a post-graduate curriculum for which field I am currently trying to make a living. No plan, no “formal” education (oenology or viticulture), just a guy from MS that caught a passion for wine after coming out for a “fun” job prior to enrolling in law school back at Ole Miss. By the way, that never happened due to overstaying my planned 2-3 months prior to 1st day of law school.
What’s your winemaking philosophy?
I go to specific vineyards for specific reasons. This is one advantage of sourcing fruit v. having estate grown and produced. I get to go where Chardonnay speaks to me, the same for Malbec, Cab, Syrah, Pinot, etc. The first component of true vineyard expression that’s lost when you start manipulating wines whether at crush pad, during fermentation, during aging, or filtering, is that intangible vineyard fingerprint that took you there in the first place. It is my goal to represent the vineyard in which I choose to work with in the finished wines and it’s hard to do that unless you have a minimalist approach to winemaking. At the same time I have 3 goals: 1) The wine must be clean 2) Must be varietal in character and 3) Must be able to pair well with food and not dominate the plate which is ultimately a balanced wine.
Some of your varietal wines have a little of something else blended in. Why? How do you determine the percentages for blending?
I blend Viognier to add a tropical lift to the older vine Chardonnay block from Sleepy Hollow. The Viognier from Simpson Vineyard out in Madera (yes, Madera) is some of the ugliest fruit I’ll see all Crush, but damn sure adds another layer of apricot, guava, and tropical nectar to my Chardonnay project. As for the Cabernet Sauvignon, I currently blend 10% Malbec to the overall wine. To me, this altars the finish of the wine by masking some of the more aggressive tannins while rounding out a dusty and refined finish that’s as savory as the day is long. The Malbec also adds some mid-palate mint-spice jam quality as well that can resemble at times a mountain sage component. How do I determine the blends? I like to find that sweet spot that doesn’t infringe on degrading or compromising the varietal character of the varietal that is featured. More like a rhythm guitar v. a lead. Same way with my oak regiments I guess, noticeable but not dominant.
What did you drink last night? (Or the last time you had a glass of wine that wasn’t your own?)
The last glass I had was 2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Grappa I triple distilled on a home copper still in the kitchen of a friends house. I took 5 gallons of macerating, fermenting grape must with about 5% residual left in the fermentation and made it into the most gorgeous damn expression of domestic grappa I’ve had in a while. Now, prior to that I had a bottle of 2008 Kosta Browne Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir with a friend that led to the Grappa. It was one a few bottles.
What’s your position on wine-pairing and what do you like to pair your wines with?
My position on pairing my wines: I’ll pair them with anyone who wants to have them. Seriously, I say that our wines are made by true, honest, and fun folks and not only to I mean it, I want you to experience it in each bottle. As for food goes, I’ve paired everything from French Toast with Maple Syrup (2007 Chardonnay) to BBQ Baby Back Ribs (Pinot & Syrah), to grilled Elk and Lamb (Cab and Malbec). I really mean it thought that I like to pair my wine with people who want to have a good time. If you’re having a good time the wine will be good too, no matter what you’re having it with.
What advice do you have to offer people just getting into wine?
For consumers: Learn, drink and buy more. For Aficionado’s: Collect more. For those who are considering getting into production for income: Be prepared to wait it out! Really though, probably don’t let other’s tell you what’s good and what isn’t. There’s no right or wrong answer, if you like what your having (no matter the score) stand by it.
If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would you invite and what would you serve them?
That’s a hard one…so many. Maybe Hitler, Hussein, and Bin Ladin the day they decided to have their first drink so I could spike a bottle of my wine and take them all out at the same time.
When: Thursday, May 19, 2011 5pm-6:30pm
Where: K&L San Francisco map and details
Cost of Tasting: $5
Wines Featured will include: