Cruse Wine Company

California / USA

At A Glance

Winemaker(s)

Michael Cruse

Varieties

Chardonnay, Syrah, Valdiguié, Tannat, St. Laurent

Their Story

“There's beauty in grace and simplicity and while I don't find those traits in myself, it's an important approach in the vineyard and cellar.” — Michael Cruse, Owner and Winemaker of Cruse Wine Co.

Cruse Wine Company is the newest addition to our California family and for good reason; Michael is making some of the most energetic and inspiring wines in Northern California and is without question the most talented sparkling winemaker in America. We met with Michael in late May at his small facility in Petaluma with great excitement to taste what he has been working on over the last year and after less than an hour it was clear to us why some of California’s top winemakers are working with him on their own sparkling wine projects. Cruse Wine Company proclaims they are “thoughtfully crafting table wines from unique vineyards in California.” Well if these are American table wines then we need to spend more time at the table.

 

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Michael sabers a handful of sparkling wines allowing us to taste them before dosage is added.

Michael began his wine career studying microbiology at UC Berkeley. He then moved on to study enology at the University of California – Davis. After graduating, Michael began working at Merryvale Vineyards in St. Helena before founding Cruse Wine Co. With a passion for Champagne-style winemaking and an immense talent for balancing science with craft, we can assure you that Michael is one of a handful of winemakers who are paving the way for the future of California wine.

Interview with Michael Cruse, Owner and Winemaker of Cruse Wine Co.

Where were you born and raised? I was born in San Francisco and raised in SF and Petaluma. Went to school at Berkeley so a Bay Area kid through and through. If you could briefly describe your approach in the vineyard what would it be? There's beauty in grace and simplicity and while I don't find those traits in myself, it's an important approach in the vineyard and cellar. Flow. Don't do things you don't have to, but don't ignore doing the things you must. What excites you most about your vineyards? The vineyards that I work with are almost entirely grown by farmers who are my friends, who I've known for a long time, in regions that are expressive and true to Northern California. I'm not sure there's such a thing as undiscovered vineyards, but there are definitely under appreciated vineyards. One of my interests in making wine from Valdiguié or St. Laurent or own-rooted Sierra Foothills Chardonnay is that all of these wines taste of place and stylistically of California and it is extremely exciting to work with vineyards that can do that. If you could say one thing to the sommeliers who are introducing people to your wines for the first time, what would it be? The first thing I would say is to try it, taste it, and hope that they find what I'm doing as exciting as I do. While I don't do anything particularly unique or special, I'm aware that as Californians we are starting to reclaim our ability to make engaging, drinkable wines that belong in people's glasses on tables. They should know that the work was done here in my shitty little winery by me and my staff without "tricks." Honest work went into what I hope is a pleasant and honest drink. What is your favorite type of music? Anything with feeling and soul. This could be jazz, really anything from early Louie Armstrong up to later Charles Mingus, early folk and revival, a bit of gospel, plenty of hip-hop, and basically any country music from the 60s and 70s. Actually the name "Monkey Jacket" comes from an old sea shanty called the "Banks of Newfoundland" that I used to listen to a lot when I was working on starting the business up -- there are a LOT of bad versions out there so be careful. If you could have any superhero power, what would you choose? I really want to say Professor X's outrageous telepathic abilities but honestly it sounds like a burden in practice. So I got to go flying. Provided you can do it at pretty outrageous altitude and go at least Mach 2 or 3. I mean, if you could only go 200 mph and it would take 15 hrs to go to New York would you really want to? Visit Cruse Wine Company Website