Custom crushes provide vital resources to boutique winemakers who don’t have their own winery facilities yet desire to have access to state of the art equipment and support. Grand Cru Custom Crush in Windsor, California takes this one step further by enabling their client wineries to offer their customers an opportunity for an amazing tasting experience.
Recently, we had the opportunity to visit with Nicole Yasinsac, Grand Cru’s Hospitality and Events Director. She gave us a tour of Grand Cru as well as providing tastes of a selection of their clients’ wines, all while sharing the story of the facility.
Robert Morris, former president of Punchdown Cellars in Santa Rosa (which was formerly Copain Custom Crush) and his wife Erin teamed up with Erin Brooks and Todd Gottula of Ernest Vineyards to open Grand Cru in 2017. The building design was inspired by the historic Boradorri Garage in Cayucos, with other touches paying homage to Robert being a reserve firefighter for the city of Healdsburg.
The production facility is 30,000 square feet with a capability of producing about 25,000 total cases annually. Winery clients are varied, which helps to ensure different picking and production schedules. Besides barrels, concrete eggs, sandstone amphorae and urns are also available, as are crush pads and bottling, as well as a lab.
We’ve been to custom crushes where tasting with the winemaker can be somewhat of an adventure, maybe just one step away from an OSHA report. The tasting salons at Grand Cru are stylish, with the bay doors available to be open to allow for as much fresh air as one would want. Gabriel Glas wine glasses help to maintain the elegance.
And the wines are no slouches either. Nicole guided us through a tasting of the following –
Edaphos by Ernest: 2021 Picpoul from Lodi’s Prie Vineyard. Ernest Winery is owned by Todd and Erin Gottula, co-owners of Grand Cru and is named after Todd’s grandfather Ernest. The Edaphos label focuses on small lots of lesser known grape varietals. The wine was subtle with an impression of a hint of sweetness and bright light citrus and a lengthy finish.
Ernest: 2019 Aligote from the Henry David Vineyard in Bennett Valley. The “other” white Burgundy, somewhat similar to Chardonnay. Light with some grassy notes and hints of arugula.
Bucher: 2021 Sauvignon Blanc from the Bucher Estate vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The Buchers added vineyards to their 360 acre dairy farm starting in 1997. The wine was fresh and bright with tropical notes. Very classic Sauvignon Blanc.
Black Kite: 2018 Pinot Noir from the Gap’s Crown Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. The co-founders are Tom and Rebecca Birdsall along with Rebecca’s parents, Donald and Maureen Green. The label named after Rebecca’s father favorite bird. Notes of dark cherry and a pleasing light finish, smooth and silky on palate.
Terminim: 2018 Syrah from the Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino. This is a collaboration between François Villard of France’s Northern Rhone Valley and Donald Patz of Patz and Hall Winery in Sonoma fame. Very dark and rich with black olive notes. Delicious wine.
Saxon Brown: 2017 Zinfandel, Stonewall Block, Sonoma County. Owner/winemaker Jeff Gaffner was with Chateau St Jean and started Saxon Brown in 1997. Dense style but not overpowering, lush ripe fruit with lavender notes.
We want to thank Nicole so much for spending time with us. Please visit Grand Cru Custom Crush on your next visit to the Santa Rosa/Windsor/Healdsburg area. It is a great multi-brand experience of the outstanding wines made at the facility – private, personal, relaxed and intimate, showcasing many varietals and AVAs.
Grand Cru Custom Crush
1200 American Way, Windsor, CA 95492Michael and Karen Perlis have been pursuing their passion for wine for more than 30 years. They have had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show them the way and after a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as they possibly could, they had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Michael and Karen do their best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers.