For over thirty years, Sonoma-Cutrer has been dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in our wines, specifically Chardonnays. Behind this almost singular focus is a story about serendipity, place and the pursuit of perfection.
In the early 1970s, after sampling a particularly memorable Bordeaux at an auction in Paris, Sonoma-Cutrer’s founder returned to America with a mission: to produce a wine that was Old World in its quality and elegance, yet thoroughly California in its expression. This pursuit ultimately would help usher in an era of world-class California Chardonnays. First, however, he had to find the right setting.
At the time, vineyard property was expensive in Sonoma Valley, where Cabernet grapes reigned supreme. Planted on the only piece of affordable property he could find (part of which was rock quarry), the first year’s Cabernet vines failed spectacularly, falling prey to the foggy, cool microclimate. Though disastrous for Cabernet, the climate, the founder would soon discover, was a perfect match for Chardonnay, making Sonoma-Cutrer one of the earliest producers of Chardonnay fruit in the Russian River Valley.
An admirer of the rigorous craftsmanship that defined Old World methods of winemaking and realizing that grape growing was a much more complicated undertaking than he had initially imagined, the founder decided focus only on a single varietal until he reached what he considered to be perfection. What began as a strategic decision to focus on Chardonnay gradually consolidated into an unwavering commitment to and ongoing love affair with the often underestimated varietal.
Known as the ubiquitous grape because it’s relatively easy to grow (it’s the #1 most produced grape in the world), California Chardonnay, though vastly produced, has not historically been a particularly diverse wine, with most flavor profiles fulfilling the ‘bold, buttery, oaky’ stereotype. From our earliest days, however, Sonoma-Cutrer’s Old World winemaking techniques and our Grand Cru philosophy to winemaking- combined with the microclimates of our vineyards have enabled us to present a different view of Chardonnay to the world, revealing the world’s most commonplace grape to be capable of surprising range and nuance.