Previously I posted an article on these two unique wineries. Here is the introduction to that article with a few updated notes:
“This is the story of two wineries, one is the remains of a winery that was established in the early days of the California wine boom and the other is only a few years old. But they have a lot in common. They are now united in one winery facility located in Santa Cruz. And, they have a common proprietor/winemaker with a long history of making balanced, harmonious, and flavorful wines without excessive oak or alcohol that age beautifully for a very long time….
But, to understand where we are today, first we have to go back to the beginning. The saga begins in a land then seemingly far away (Santa Cruz) at a time long ago (1974) and a man with a passion (Ken Burnap). I first met Ken in the early 1970s. At that time he lived in Orange County, California and owned and ran an industrial contracting firm and founded and owned a restaurant called the Hobbit. The Hobbit quickly became a go to destination for people near and far. It was unique in offering a multi-course prix-fixe dinner that began at a set time in the wine cellar with Champagne and appetizers. It was a favorite dining place for many of us. The ambience, food, and wine selection were all superb. And, Ken was a great host. I have not been there since Ken sold the restaurant, but it still exists today in the same place and follows the same format. You can check it out by clicking here ) 
Ken loved wine, particularly Burgundy. But, like me, he was disappointed in most of the California Pinot Noirs. And, being an adventuresome soul, he decided one day that he would look for the right spot in California to make great Pinot Noir. His friend, the late Joe Swan, was making a Pinot Noir that he greatly admired. There were also a few others (such as Chalone, Mt.Eden, and ZD), but not too much else of interest. So for several years he researched the regions to best grow Pinot Noir. He finally settled on two — the Russian River area of Sonoma County and the Santa Cruz Mountains. He learned winemaking and in 1974 he found out that his friend, David Bruce, wanted to sell a Pinot Noir vineyard that he owned in the Santa CruzMountains. So Ken went to the vineyard. He concluded that it had the potential to make great Pinot Noir, but was not sure if he wanted to take the plunge. The more he thought about it, the more it appealed to him. So he went back one more time and this time he took a bottle of Champagne with him. He had made up his mind and with a toast to a new venture and a new life he forged ahead and purchased the vineyard.
The vineyard was called Jarvis Vineyard and it had produced grapes continuously since 1863. It had been replanted to Pinot Noir in 1969-70. The vineyard was dry farmed and produced frightfully low yields of less than one ton per acre. Nonetheless, Ken was sure he had found the right place and the low yields did not deter him. In fact, controlling yields was a factor that he felt was extremely important to making great wine. (High yields were never a problem here, but I have to believe that sometimes the economics were of some concern!) No matter, in 1975 he produced his first wine from a temporary facility he built on the site. With this wine Ken hit a home run his first time at bat! We loved the wine and wrote it up in first issue of The Underground Wineletter with a glowing review (To read the Retrospective Review click here). 
In 1977 Ken completed a new winery built on four levels so the wine could be moved entirely by gravity. He also had a small space where he lived when he needed to work almost around the clock to get everything done. After the great 1975, Ken continued to make wonderful estate bottled Pinot Noir (including such wines as the stunning 1977 and 1979) and branched out into other varieties including Santa Cruz Mountain grown Cabernet so he could fully utilize his new capacity. Ken did all the work himself with the help of a few friends from time to time. In 1979 a 19-year-old sophomore from nearby UC Santa Cruz by the name of Jeff Emery was hired on a part time basis. He and Ken became fast friends. When Jeff graduated in 1981 he could not resist the call to come back and learn grape growing and winemaking. During this time and thereafter, there was also a third person working full time at the winery. That person changed three times over the years, but Ken and Jeff were the constants and worked together as a team.
At the end of the 1990s, Ken began taking more and more time off and left the day to day operations of the winery to Jeff. In 2003 Ken retired permanently and Jeff continued to make wine on his own from the same vineyards. In 2004 Ken decided to sell the property. Jeff could not afford to buy the property so it was sold to a third party. However, in July 2004, Jeff purchased the business, including the name, equipment, and inventory. This date was exactly 25 years from the date that he had first come to work part time. Jeff then moved the equipment and the inventory to a new winery that had space available for lease. On the last day at the Jarvis location for Ken and Jeff, they walked to the place in the vineyard where Ken had popped the bottle of Champagne in 1974 that sealed the deal and changed his life. And, that day the two of them said good-bye to the vineyard and celebrated their long relationship by drinking a bottle of sparkling wine from the vineyard. That day was almost 30 years from Ken’s first visit to the site. And, on that day, Jeff was exactly the same age as Ken was when he first visited the site in 1974. Ken went on to his retirement and is enjoying life. Jeff continued to make Pinot Noir from Santa Cruz Mountain grapes that are sourced from areas very near the old Jarvis vineyard site. The new owners of Jarvis vineyard (Vine Hill Winery) tore out the old vines and re-planted it in 2005. And, just recently the vineyard was sold again. This time to a person that Jeff and Ken believe has a total commitment to make great Pinot Noir.
In the early 2000s, after visiting Spain and Portugal, Jeff was convinced that the nearly unknown varietals grown in those areas would thrive in California’s climate. He searched out vineyards growing these varietals and made some Tempranillo under the Santa CruzMountain label in 2003 and 2004. Quinta Cruz was launched as a new brand soon thereafter to specialize in strictly California grown Iberian grape varieties. The first vintage for the Quinta Cruz label was 2005 and these wines were first sold in 2007.
So, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it — the story of two wineries that came together in a very unique way to produce unique and delicious wines. These are wines that belong in the cellar of everyone who loves flavorful, balanced wines made in a traditional way from low yielding vineyards. Below are notes on wines currently in the barrel and wines that are bottled and available for sale. These are wines you do not want to miss.
On a recent visit to the winery in Santa Cruz I tasted 2011s and 2012s from barrel. Prior to that, I also tasted the current releases 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 from bottle. The production in 2012 was the largest production ever as crop sizes were more normal as opposed to the very small crops in 2011 and 2010. The 3 vintages are quite different. The 2012s are ripe and rounded. The 2011s are more restrained and have higher acidity than 2010 owing to a very cool growing season. And the 2010s are concentrated with good acidity. The total case production under both labels is 5100 hundred cases in 2012, 3150 cases in 2011, and 2870 cases in 2010. There are many excellent wines in all of these years as well as in the prior years 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2001. Tasting notes on these wines appear below. (To see notes on other wines from 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, and 2003 see the two previous articles by clicking here  and here ).
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
Wines Tasted From Bottle
2009 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Bailey’s Branciforte Ridge Vineyard.
This vineyard was planted in 1999 and is located in the Vine Hill area near the old Estate Winery on Jarvis Road.
The production in 2009 was 185 cases. The alcohol is 14%. This wine was reviewed earlier from barrel with an Outstanding Potential rating and it has met expectations.
The wine has a deep color and a great floral, spice, berry perfume with a tinge of green olive. It is balanced and loaded with berry fruit with a faint exotic nuance that is accented by spice and green olive. This is a full rich wine that has intensity and depth and should age for a very long time – Outstanding Plus. $29 Best Buy 
2009 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Branciforte Creek Vineyard.
This vineyard was planted in 1988 on a site that originally had vineyards dating back to 1863. It is located on Jarvis Road in the Vine Hill area of the Santa Cruz Mountains about a mile away from the old Estate Vineyard on Jarvis Road. The vineyard is planted to the Pommard clone and consistently has low yields. The wines from here show great depth and intensity. The production in 2009 was 125 cases. The alcohol is 14%. This wine was also reviewed earlier from barrel with an Outstanding Potential rating and it has also met expectations.
The wine has a deep color and a lovely floral berry perfume with a tinge of spice and a kiss of mint. It has lots of supple fruit and is rounded and balanced with a nice underlying crispness. This wine is loaded with flavor and should age beautifully – Outstanding Plus. $39 
2010 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Grenache California.
This Grenache is made from grapes grown in two different vineyards in different locations in California. One third is from grapes grown on vines that are over 100 years old in the McDowell Valley Vineyard in Mendocino County. The other two thirds of the blend is from grapes grown on younger vines in the Pierce Ranch which is located in southwestern Monterey County. The production in 2010 was 393 cases. The alcohol is 14%.
This wine has a very nice color with a lovely raspberry perfume accented by a touch of spice. It is very pure with lovely spice tinged fruit accented by a hint of mint. Just now the tannins are in evidence, but the wine softens with a few hours of air. It should soften over the next several years – Highly Recommended. $18 
2010 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Luchessi Vineyard.
This vineyard was planted in 1981 on a steep hillside on the ease side of the Santa Cruz Mountains just northeast of Monte Bello Ridge. The vineyard is dry farmed and the yields are very low. This vintage yielded only 95 cases. The alcohol is 13%.
The wine has a dark color and an intense perfume of mulberry, cassis, and black pepper with a hint of green olive. It has lots of depth and flavor and is structured with balanced underlying tannin. This wine developed beautifully over several days. With more time in the bottle this is sure to soften and gain complexity – Outstanding. $34 Best Buy 
2010 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Petite Sirah Pierce Ranch San AntonioValley.
Here is what owner and winemaker, Jeff Emery, had to say about Petite Sirah:
”The variety known in California as Petite Sirah has its origins in France where it is called Durif. It was named after Dr. Durif who propagated it from a cross of Peloursin and Syrah in 1880. Only in the U.S. is the variety called Petite Sirah – elsewhere in the world it is called by its correct and original name Durif. Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard has worked with this variety since 1977.
The grapes for this wine come from the relatively new appellation of San Antonio Valley in southwestern Monterey County. This high valley, west of Highway 101 is well suited to slightly warmer climate grape varieties. The block that these grapes come from is on top of a well-drained, shale covered hill.
We are using a relatively new approach in fermenting our Petite Sirah. The variety is famous for over-extracting tannins, often making wines of great fruit intensity, but commonly having a lot of astringency. Starting in 2005 we went to a method of whole berry fermentation of our Petite Sirah and we are very excited about the results.
When the grapes are processed they are only de-stemmed, not crushed at all. We de-stem them into small, one ton lot, fermentation bins. By not crushing the berries we release fewer of the harsh tannins during fermentation.”
There were 542 cases of this wine made in 2010. The alcohol is 14.0%.
Very dark in color this Petite Sirah has a deep blackberry perfume with floral spice notes. It has layers of rich blackberry fruit accented by a faint smoky spiciness and hints of black pepper. It is intensely flavored with a rounded supple structure nicely balanced by some underlying tannin. This should be a keeper – Outstanding. $18 Best Buy 
2001 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate Reserve Santa Cruz Mountains.
This was one of the last wines from the old Jarvis estate vineyard. Two specially selected barrels were held back for extended bottle aging. It continues to show impressive richness, but, like many other vintages of Santa Cruz Mountain Estate Pinot Noir, it still needs more age. When I first tasted it (to read the first review click here ). I said it could take another 10-15 years. This time I tasted the wine over four days and 10-15 years still sounds about right. If you drink it now, it requires decanting and a lot of air.
The wine has a deep color and a cedary perfume with berry and plum fruit accented by a touch of spiciness and a faint floral nuance. It is rich and rounded with an abundance of fruit, but is still restrained. Again, patience is required, but this should make a wonderful bottle in the years to some – Outstanding/Outstanding Plus. $65 
Wines Tasted From Barrel
2012 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Grenache Blanc.
This is the first year for this wine. The production is 175 cases.
Light yellow in color, the wine has a lovely floral perfume with hints of pear and vanilla. It is rounded and supple with lovely vanilla tinged fruit and has a nice underlying crispness – Very Good Potential. 
2011 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Bailey’s Branciforte Ridge Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains.
This vineyard produced and very finesseful, elegant wine in the cool 2011 growing season. It has a very nice color and a lovely berry perfume with a floral undertone. The wine has very pure fruit that exhibits good intensity and balance. Just now a bit restrained, but it looks to be very fine – Very Good Potential. 
2011 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Branciforte Creek Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains.
From four acres of vineyards located about a mile from the old Jarvis Vineyard, the production of this wine in 2011 was only 3 barrels. The wine has a very nice color and exhibits a lovely floral perfume with spice tinged berry fruit. It is elegant and supple with very pure bright fruit and has intensity and great structure. This Pinot Noir should develop beautifully over time – Outstanding Potential. 
2011 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Luchessi Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains.
This low yielding vineyard produced an intense wine in 2011. It is dark in color with a great perfume showing cassis and cedar with a tinge of spice. It is packed with fruit and has lots of flavor and is very well balanced with impressive length. This should evolve beautifully over time – Outstanding Potential. 
2012 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Luchessi Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains.
Very dark in color this 2012 Cabernet is packed with fruit. The cassis like perfume is stunning and the wine has great intensity and depth. It is amazing how well this wine is showing at this very early stage of its evolution – Outstanding Plus Potential. 
2012 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Bailey’s Branciforte Ridge Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains.
Here I tasted a blend of two clones as the final blend had not been made. This blend showed a lot of beautifully balanced fruit with depth and great purity. I look forward to tasting the wine again after bottling. But, based on this sample, this should be a lovely harmonious Pinot Noir.
2012 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Branciforte Creek Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains.
Compared with the miniscule 3 barrel production from this vineyard in 2011, the 2012 vintage produced a “bumper” crop of 5 tons of fruit from 4 acres and a total of 15 barrels of wine. This is an absolutely stunning Pinot Noir. Dark in color the wine has a gorgeous perfume that shows a myriad of fruits with an exotic floral tinge. Rich and rounded with very pure fruit and impeccable balance, this looks to be a real tour de force – Exceptional Potential. 
2012 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Petite Sirah Pierce Ranch San Antonio Valley.
The final blend of this wine had not been made at the time of my tasting. What I tasted was a blend of the best blocks. The wine was very dark in color with intense fruit. Impressively rich, but restrained, this looks to have the depth and structure associated with this wine in previous vintages.
Wines Tasted From Bottle
2011 Quinta Cruz Verdelho Silverspoons Vineyard Alta Mesa
Verdelho is the grape that was introduced to the Madeira Islands in the 15th century and is used to make Madeira wines. Today it is also grown in the Douro River area of Portugal and the Anjou region of the Loire Valley in France. This wine is sourced from a vineyard that has similar growing conditions as the European plantings. This vintage yielded 255 cases. The alcohol is 12.5%.
This 2011 Verdelho is the best I have tasted. It is light yellow gold in color with a great honeyed perfume with hints of coconut and apricot and a faint tinge of spice. It has gorgeous complex fruit flavors showing coconut, apricot, and lime with honeyed tropical nuances. With a long crisp finish, this is a stunning wine for near term consumption – Outstanding. $20 
2007 Quinta Cruz Rabelo – Late Bottled Vintage Dessert Wine
A Rabelo is the boat that traders carried the barrels of new Port wine from the Douro Valley to the agency houses across the river from the town of Oporto. The drawing of this boat is on all Quinta Cruz labels and this wine carries that name. It is made entirely from the grape varieties used in Portugal (Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, and Tinto Cao). It also is fortified with complex alembic Brandy made from the same grapes from the same vineyard. Very simply, it is a single vineyard Port-style dessert wine. In Portugal, the laws were changed in the 1970s requiring the Port houses to buy grapes for the fortification brandy. Also, they cannot distill the brandy themselves. This wine is unique because it uses the same type of brandy that used to be used in Port. It also is made from grapes that are ripe, but not overripe. Most California Port-style wines are made from very overripe, often raisined, fruit. Ports in Portugal are not made from overripe fruit and this one isn’t either.
In reviewing the 2006 vintage of this wine, this was the bottom line: Once again, the wine is unique and totally great. It is without question the very best Port-style dessert wine I have ever experienced. You owe it to yourself to give this a try. If you do, I’m sure you will be simply amazed! This 2007 is a worthy successor to the 2006 and is blended with 50%Tinta Roriz, 34% Touriga Nacional, and 16% Tinta Câo.
The wine has a very nice color with an amber edge and a deep spirity perfume showing hints of roasted pecans, vanilla, chocolate, and spice. It is rich and sweet, but is balanced by a nice citrus undertone. Exotic fruit, figs, vanilla, chocolate and spice a melded into a lovely sweetness that finishes with a bright, crisp acidity. This is gorgeous – Outstanding Plus. $57 (750) $30 (375) 
2008 Tempranillo Reserve Pierce Ranch San Antonio Valley.
This is the first time a Reserve release Tempranillo has been made. The most complex and interesting barrels were set aside and small amount of the Portugese varieties, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, were added. Jeff believes it a bit like a Reserve from the Douro Valley of Portugal. To me, it is a unique and wonderful wine that is delicious now, yet with the potential to age. The alcohol is 12.8%.
With a deep color just faintly amber at the edge, the wine has a great perfume of blackberry and mulberry with tinges of spice and cedar. It has gorgeous fruit with floral, cedar and spice nuances and is supple and rounded. Beautifully balanced, this is a unique and delicious wine – Outstanding. $24 Best Buy 
2009 Quinta Cruz Touriga Pierce Ranch San Antonio Valley.
Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca are the grapes used to make vintage port. They are also the grapes that are used to make this wine (82% Touriga Nacional and 18% Touriga Franca). However, because federal wine regulations will not allow the use of these names, the wine is simply called Touriga. There were 124 cases produced in 2009. The alcohol is 14.1% and is in perfect harmony with the fruit.
The color is very dark and there is a deep perfume of blackberry and plum with a floral tinge and faint foresty, smoky, spicy nuances. The wine is rich and flavorful with layers of black fruits with faintly spicy and smoky accents, but is balanced and has no sense of heaviness. This is a really unique and lovely wine – Outstanding. $24 Best Buy 
2009 Quinta Cruz Souzâo Silverspoons Vineyard Alta Mesa.
Souzao is also known as Vinhao in Portugal where it is used to make port wine. As a varietal wine this certainly qualifies as an under the radar wine. There were 112 cases of this wine made in 2009. The alcohol is 12.5%.
Dark in color this wine has a deep perfume of black berry fruit with hints of plum, cassis, and fig compote with a touch of spice. It is loaded with very pure fruit suggesting black berry, plum, and cassis with a faintly spicy, smoky accent. With great depth of flavor, yet not heavy, and beautifully balanced, this is a very impressive wine. Under the radar or not, this captivates the imagination as to the evolution of this wine over time – Outstanding. $24 Best Buy 
2010 Quinta Cruz Graciano Bokisch Vineyard Clements Hills.
I’ll bet you don’t know Graciano, but here is an example of why you should. Graciano is a Spanish grape variety grown primarily in Rioja and virtually unknown anywhere else. Rioja wines are mostly Tempranillo with some Garnacha (Grenache) and occasionally a small amount of Graciano. Jeff believes there are fewer than a dozen varietal bottlings of this wine anywhere in the world. So here again is another wine that is really under the radar. The Bokisch Vineyards are located in the Sacramento Valley between Sacramento and Lodi. This area is very warm and ideally suited for growing Graciano which can hold its acidity in a very warm climate. The production of this 2010 was 216 cases. The alcohol is 13%.
Dark in color the wine has a deep perfume of cassis and plum with a touch of spice. It has loads of plum and cassis fruit with great intensity. Structured with well integrated tannin, the wine is very pure and balanced and should develop beautifully over time – Outstanding. $28 Best Buy 
2010 Quinta Cruz Tempranillo Pierce Ranch San AntonioValley.
This wine comes from grapes grown in Southern Monterey County. Tempranillo is the most widely planted grape variety in Spain and Portugal where Jeff says there are something like 30 total synonyms for this variety throughout the Iberian Peninsula. It is not yet widely known in the U.S., but as plantings continue to increase it soon will be. Quinta Cruz is making consistently lovely Tempranillos and this is the latest example. There were 663 cases produced in 2010. The alcohol is 13.2%.
With a deep color the wine has a lovely perfume of berries and cedar with a spicy tinge. It has lovely pure fruit with hints of tart cherry and a faint smoky, spicy nuance. Well structured with a good underlying backbone, this wine should evolve beautifully over the next 3-5 years and keep well beyond – Outstanding. $18 Best Buy 
Wines Tasted From Barrel
Jeff is experimenting with new Portugese varieties. I tasted several including Tinta Amarella, Baga, and Periquita aka Castelâo. Each had interesting characteristics. It will be fascinating to see how these wines will evolve in the future as blends or varietal bottlings. There can be very little doubt about the enthusiasm and skill Jeff is bringing to this very much under the radar project. Stay tuned!
2012 Quinta Cruz Albariño.
Light yellow in color this wine has a gorgeous floral perfume with hints of citrus and apricot. It is rounded and flavorful with tinges of citrus, peach, and apricot and is beautifully balanced with a nice crispness – Very Good Potential. 
2012 Quinta Cruz Verdelho Silverspoons Vineyard Alta Mesa.
Light yellow in color this wine has a lovely floral perfume with tinges of almond and spice. It is rounded with lovely fruit and has a nice underlying crispness – Very Good Potential. 
2011 Quinta Cruz Tempranillo Pierce Ranch San Antonio Valley.
This is a gorgeous Tempranillo that exemplifies the great appeal of this varietal. It has a dark color and a deep perfume of cranberry fruit and floral spice undertones. With very pure fruit accented by a tinge of spice, the wine is balanced and very flavorful with a long finish – Outstanding Potential. 
2011 Quinta Cruz Touriga Pierce Ranc San Antonio Valley. I tasted only one component of this wine, the Touriga National which will represent 2/3s of the finished wine. The other 1/3 will be the Touriga Franca which is grown in the same vineyard. Dark in color the perfume is stunning with a myriad of black fruits and a spicy floral undertone. Rich and balanced with gorgeous fruit this component is impressive.
2011 Quinta Cruz Graciano Bokisch Vineyard Clements Hills.
Dark in color this wine has a deep berry perfume with hints of spice and chocolate. It has great fruit, flavor, and intensity. Balanced with a long finish showing hints of chocolate and spice, this should be really lovely – Outstanding Potential. 
2012 Quinta Cruz Tempranillo Pierce Ranch San Antonio Valley.
Very dark in color this is a Tempranillo with lots of richness and fruit. It is structured and very flavorful with balanced tannin and a long finish – Outstanding Potential. 
2012 Quinta Cruz Souzâo Silverspoons Vineyard Alta Mesa.
Very dark in color this wine has a stunning perfume that is brimming with fruit. Rich, full, and rounded there is a lot of depth and intensity. The complexity should be manifest with additional time in barrel – Outstanding Potential. 
These are attractively priced, hand crafted wines that are made in limited quantities. The wines are balanced and will age beautifully for many years. If you have not yet tried the wines from Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard and Quinta Cruz, I strongly advise you to do so. They are available in limited retail distribution and direct from the winery. (To visit the website and learn about the wine club offering substantial discounts click here )