When Drake Whitcraft took over the family winery in 2007 (the winery was founded two decades before, in 1985 by his parents, Chris and Kathleen) his goal was to make balanced Central Coast wine of purity, honesty, and finesse. Because he grew up within the culture of wine and California winemaking, he was perpetually under the tutelage of both father Chris and friend Burt Williams, founder of the legendary Williams-Selyem winery in Sonoma. During a two year stint in Australia working at Green Vineyards with first-generation Italo-Australian and biodynamic guru Sergio Carlei, he got a good taste of certain practices he wanted to implement, not only in the vineyard and winery but also on the business side. Now Drake is vinifying with the same old school techniques his dad used (hand-harvesting, foot-pressing etc, no added enzymes or coloration) and with much veneration to Mother Nature herself.
He uses some biodynamic practices to produce Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Grenache of distinction; he does not de-stem or add water. Drake has chosen to inoculate only with the Williams Selyem strain, a yeast native to the Jackass Hill portion of Lino Martinelli’s Zinfandel vineyard on the Russian River. “It’s a super yeast,” he says “guaranteed to ferment.” Whole cluster fermentation is never subject to pump over and the wines are not racked off the lees. He hand fills and hand corks each bottle. The wine receives just enough SO2 to stabilize it, and the production is super small.
The resulting wines are clean and impeccably balanced. They represent a cross section of the emerging class of site-specific wines coming out of Central Coast California today.