Do something for 30 years and you’re bound to get pretty good at it. During his three decades in the wine business, Chris Whitcraft has learned just about every aspect, from selling to reselling to writing. And finally, Chris Whitcraft the winemaker has a roof over his head that’s all his own.
Though not far from his old location, which Whitcraft shared with Jaffurs Winery for four years, the move to 36 South César Chávez offers all the autonomy and pride of ownership that comes with having a place of your own. But it also offers good news for drinkers of fine wines: The new place will allow Chris and his son (and sole coworker), Drake, to double their production. After all, Whitcraft isn’t some industrial-sized, conveyer-belt, winemaking operation. This is handcrafted art in a bottle.
Chris has always taken great care with his wines. “We make all our reds and most of the whites without fining, filtering, or pumping and as little sulfur as possible,” he said. “Nothing else except natural acid adjustments, if needed, and occasional nonnative yeasts.” And because every harvest is different, every vintage is treated special. “There’s no recipe for winemaking,” Drake explained. “We have to bend what we do every year to complement what Mother Nature gave us.”
Whitcraft is most renowned for bending grapes into high- class Pinot Noirs — it even scored them a lingering label shot in Sideways — but they also create delicious Chardonnay and Lagrein. At just 1,500 cases a year, they always sell out fast. As Drake says about the new place and his father’s realized dream, “He’s been doing this for 30 years, it’s about time.” Congratulations, Chris — you’ve earned it!
4·1·1 Whitcraft Winery 36 S. César Chávez; weekend tastings begin in late April. Call 965-0956 or visit whitcraftwinery.com.