A lot has changed since I started writing this. First and foremost, I hope everyone is safe. I know we are all working together to get to the other side. With so much on all of our minds, I hope this might be a short distraction.
At the release of the 2017 vintage last year, I was frustrated, but ultimately determined to push on. We had struggled through the drought years, the mildew years, and of course mistakes that we can claim, but 2018 was redeeming, proof that pushing on was the right call. The vintage brings focus and energy to the Ghostwriter project.
In 10 years, we have come full circle, realizing that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the veins and arteries of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Both thrive in the cool, foggy, predominantly sandy region, express terroir, and uniquely justify the extreme high costs of farming and low yields. We plan to still produce a very small amount of Syrah but limited to 2-3 barrels per year and only in the best years. Our original mission was to highlight the potential of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Narrowing our vineyard and wine focus enables us to progress toward this goal.
2018 is a memorable vintage. The wines are proper, true to place, and full of character. They will all age well. When the grape growing and the winemaking are synergistic with each other, the resulting wines show a through line from vineyard to barrel to bottle. 2018 renewed the passion that this project requires and inspired new dedication to the work that is necessary.
As always, we are strictly dedicated to native yeast fermentations, uninoculated (spontaneous) Malolactic fermentations, and avoiding the use of any commercial fermentation or fining aids. Only a minimal amount of sulfur dioxide is used, generally added only before bottling. The concept is to produce unforced wines that reference place and time. All of the wines are unfined and unfiltered.
On a last note, I would like to dedicate the 2018 vintage to Dexter Ahlgren. On a quiet day while we were pruning the Ahlgren Vineyard, he passed away in the home he built overlooking the vineyard. Dexter and Val have had a profound influence on my career and thoughts and feelings about wine and the wine industry.
Finally, these wines are available on our website. Follow the links below to receive 15% off of 12 bottles or more and $1 shipping. If you have any questions, give us a call. We would love to talk to you.
Thank you for your continued interest and support.
2018 Santa Cruz County Pinot Noir Cuvée (572 cases) - $30
The 2018 cuvée covers all bases. It is a return to the more lean, light style of wine that we strive for. The vintage was longer and cooler allowing for more hang time, more acid, and more tart fruit. This will be one of those years where this wine is an exceptional value. Drinking great now, but plenty of life ahead of it.
2018 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay (434 cases) - $30
The Chardonnay at Woodruff and Amaya continues to get better. Easily the most approachable of the 2018s, but arguably the most intriguing and accessibly complex too. With just a touch of reduction, the long palate and mineral texture are really lovely. I expect this wine to age for many years to come. 91% Woodruff Family Vineyard, 9% Amaya Ridge.
2018 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, Ahlgren Vineyard (25 cases) - $50
This is perhaps the most "Burgundian" of the 2018 Pinots. I hate using that word because it is really quite Californian, but the fruit is tart and high toned and the wine has a thinner smooth kind of glide across the palate. This is the first time that we have bottled a 100% Ahlgren Vineyard Pinot Noir. The label has a new poem, a tribute to Dexter and Val Ahlgren. 50% whole cluster, neutral French oak. 1 barrel produced. RIP Dexter.
2018 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, Amaya Ridge Vineyard (53 cases) - $50
Always a little richer than the others, the 2018 Amaya is dark, borderline creamy, and layered with fruit and alpine spices. As always, it is from the lower older blocks of the vineyard planted 50/50 to heritage clones, Saintsburg and Calera. 30% whole cluster and aged in one neutral and one second fill French oak barrel. Will age well.
2018 Santa Cruz County Pinot Noir, Aptos Creek Vineyard (51 cases) - $50
We are unsure what the future holds for Aptos Creek. The property is for sale and it doesn't seem likely that we will continue to farm or be able to source this fruit that we have been working with since 2001. In addition, storms in 2019 brought down our deer fence allowing deers to completely decimate that year's crop. So, for now, 2018 may be our last vintage of Aptos Creek. This is perfectly sad because it is arguably the best. We have invested nearly two decades into studying how to farm and make the wine from the unique site. Loaded with juicy cranberry fruit, mouthwatering acid, and dank musty forest floor flavors. Just what you might expect and hope for from a very low elevation maritime vineyard surrounded by Redwoods and Oaks.
2016 Santa Cruz County Syrah (64 cases) - $30
Lighter than what you might expect from Syrah, maybe lighter than what you might expect from a Pinot Noir, but delicious with a quiet earthiness and a peppery spice that stays on the palate. Like 2015, 2016 has taken some time to come around and is still far from it's prime. Fermented with 100% whole clusters in barrels that we pulled the heads off of and aged in the same barrels for 19 months. Bottled in the winter of 2018.
Previously released, but still good and still available
2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon, Bates Ranch - $65
We don't make this wine anymore. 2015 will be the final vintage that we release. It was great and a great experience, but as I have re-examined the Ghostwriter project, it makes more sense for us to limit our geographical range. That all said, this is a wine for the ages. It has the structure, backbone, and grip to go the distance. We have enjoyed plenty of bottles, but I suspect, the wine is still young and worth cellaring. I do miss the vineyard.