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This week we focus on a perennial favorite at AWCO...The wines of Ceritas.

Their small collective team, led by founder, John Raytek, can easily draw a detailed map of the northern California coastal regions, including the West Sonoma Coast, Santa Cruz Mountains, Moon Mountain, and Napa. They know this place inside and out – riding their bikes through its rolling hills, surfing in its frigid waters, taking their kids mushroom foraging in the fog-drenched conifers – and you can see it in the wines. 

They allow each vineyard to be the teacher, with they as the students. This ongoing process of listening to and learning from each site, every vintage, enables them to discover and share what each site is capable of expressing. They are continually reminded of the simple principle that most of the vital work occurs in the vineyard, and the role of the winemaker is to allow the vineyard to express itself in a balanced, inimitable wine. They are obsessed with the traditions of winemaking and are fanatically devoted to excellence. 

The wines of Ceritas are of time and place sourced from unique sites not shared by many or anyone. 

2020 CHARLES HEINTZ CHARDONNAY \ WEST SONOMA COAST The OG old school. Charles Heintz is perched just east of the small town of Occidental. Situated precisely towards the coast allows for cool oceanic fog-soaked air to penetrate the vineyard, leaving the grapes to grow and mature in the most ideal of environments. Eroded soils make the vines dig deep to find water and nutrients, and bring out the unique characteristics of this site. The vines sip on the salty, mineral soil, producing a wine that is classic and at the same time rooted in what is best about Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. 

Tasting Note: A stunning wine that embodies the best qualities of West Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. A grand, sweeping wine with dramatic concentration and richness with a bead of acidity that begs for food. Yet, it remains so coastal with classic signatures of citrus, slate, crushed rock, and mint that literally explode into a finish of palate-staining weight and intensity. Magical wine. 

2020 ZEPHYR CHARDONNAY \ WEST SONOMA COAST Spindrift. Atomized ocean. Imagine a vineyard staring at a valley filled with coastal fog. Redwood trees whip around as the cool ocean air slides across this land. Here at Zephyr, Chardonnay ripens slowly, bringing forth the savory flavors you often find in our mountain wines from Santa Cruz, but with a clear, linear freshness that reminds you of its origins. Farmed with meticulous care by their good friend Greg Adams for the past 18 years allows them to manage each row with precision to grow optimized grapes expressing the purity of the site. 

Tasting Note: Punchy nose with so much amplitude. Scents of crunchy apples and a dewy meadow on a cold morning, you can taste the salt-laden fog whisps in this wine. The palate is well balanced with quenching acidity. There is a bit more weight than Trout Gulch or Carex. The salinity is off the charts with this wine and the finish goes and goes with notes of kaffir lime, grapefruit, and fresh hay. 

2020 ELLIOTT PINOT NOIR \ WEST SONOMA COAST Quiet. It'll surprise you. Far out on the coast, where loggers and people just looking to get back to the land is where you often find the most inspiring vineyards. Elliott is one of those places. Here the second generation, Elisa Hellenthal, tends to the land and vines from which this wine comes. Planted in the late 1970s meant clonal diversity was scarce. Luckily one of the clones from the famed Mt Eden Vineyard was available and is now planted here. 

Tasting Note: Fermented with 35% whole bunches. Extremely fine delineation on the nose, the whole bunches lending to a cornucopia of spice and warming aromas of dark cherry, black pepper, and violet. The palate is medium bodied with a sense of potent marine influences of seaweed and oyster shells. Intense toward the finish with grace and precision. 

2020 TROUT GULCH PINOT NOIR \ SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS Red salt. Energy station. In the southern Santa Cruz Mountains, vineyards find themselves at home in the canyons that run parallel to the ocean. Their orientation allows the coastal influence to reach the vines more often than other sites that they work with. Trout Gulch is tucked into one of these canyons, just east of the small seaside town of Aptos. Being planted back in the 1970s allowed this vineyard to remain a secret until more recently when our colleague Richard Alfaro took over the farming. 

Tasting Note: Fermented with 45% whole bunch. Wonderful precision on the nose with very perfumed notes of white flowers, crushed limestone, and oyster shell. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannins, pitch-perfect acidity. Bursting with energy and tension with crushed sour cherry. 

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