When it’s time to celebrate a milestone anniversary, many companies feel a sense of nostalgia and gather employees who helped shape the company. Sonoma-Cutrer decided to celebrate the winery’s 40th Anniversary by bringing together past winemakers to craft a special Chardonnay. What’s remarkable, is that each they did it isolated in their homes in the midst of a global pandemic.
Cara Morrison, currently in change of chardonnay winemaking, spent some time to tell me about the process of bringing together four decades of winemakers for a special release — Bill Bonetti (1981-1990), Terry Adams (1991-2010), Mick Schroeter (2010-Present) and Cara (2005-Present). They worked together to blend a Chardonnay that pays tribute to the classic Burgundian traditions adding each winemaker’s unique style using special hand-harvested blocks from three estate vineyards — Les Pierres, The Cutrer and Vine Hill. She talked about how they put together two final blends to choose from and how they all came together virtually to make their final selection. It wasn’t an easy process in a year of heat, rain and frosts.
Cara told me that it was important to all the winemakers to stay true to the style of Sonoma-Cutrer. Collaborating so closely with Bill, Terry, and Mick was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Unfortunately, Bill, the founding winemaker, passed away in the Fall, so it was special to dedicate the final blend to him.
Sonoma-Cutrer’s Winemaker’s Release 40th Anniversary Chardonnay brings together pear, citrus, apple, spice, caramel, nutmeg, spice and toasted nut. It’s a good mix of acidity and balance showing what this winery can accomplish. For ten months, the wine was matured sur-lies in barrels that were single sourced from the Orleans Forest located in central France.
Once a pre-med major, Cara’s love for science quickly pivoted to a love for wine. A native of San Jose, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Fermentation Science from the University of California at Davis.
After college Cara spent a year traveling to other winemaking regions of the world, working at wineries in Australia, Chile and New York while also studying the craft in New Zealand, Eastern Europe, Italy, Germany and France (in Burgundy, the Rhone, Bordeaux, Champagne and the Loire region). In 2005 she joined Sonoma-Cutrer, where she was thrilled to finally make a Chardonnay that she declared she would make when she tried it early on before she worked at the winery. She also worked at Jekel and Fetzer Vineyards.
We talked about the serious focus on women at Sonoma-Cutrer. Currently, Cara and Zidanelia Arcidiacono, who heads up the Pinot Noir program, along with the winery’s cellar master and vineyard director, are all powerful females.
Other Wines I Tried:
It was completely fun to take an unrelated look into the 2018 Les Pierres Chardonnay that consists of most of what I tried with the 40th anniversary wines. Lots of lemon, peach, Asian spice, lime with a nice minerality.
Our last wine was the NV Sonoma-Cutrer Grand Cuvee. Made from 60% Chardonnay from Vine Hill Ranch and 40% Pinot Noir from the producer’s Owsley Estate, I tasted cherry, strawberry and peach. apple, hazelnut and brioche.
Any of these wines I covered will shatter any stereotypes that you may ever have from trying any grocery selections of Sonoma-Cutrer wines. I’m excited to see what the pinots have in store.
Wishing Sonoma-Cutrer a milestone anniversary celebration and I’m glad I got to see another side of the boutique wines produced.