May 26, 2014 – As a welder and steel fabricator, Eric Stockwell started working with Santa Cruz wineries when they needed specialized equipment for their growing businesses. An inherent fascination with chemistry and fermentation led him to begin making wine as a hobby at the back of his westside shop Central Coast Welding and Fabrication.
Guided by longtime friendships with top local winemakers like Steve Storrs of Storrs Winery, Ryan Beauregard of Beauregard Vineyards, and Dennis Hoey of Odonata, Stockwell soon found himself with production beyond the capability of individual consumption. Thus, Stockwell Cellars came to be, and the region is the better for it.
When I met Stockwell for the first time at Pinot Paradise this spring, he seemed almost star struck with reception he was enjoying for his wines. After all, being in such august company as Jeff Emery of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Judy Schultz of Windy Oaks, Bradley Brown of Big Basin Vineyards, Jeffrey Patterson of Mount Eden and Richard Alfaro of Alfaro Vineyards, to name but a few, is certainly a privilege. To be able to showcase your wares to so many new people for the first time at a venue like The Mountain Winery is a certainly an honor, and to be one of the “it” wineries of the event is the icing on the cake.
Stockwell’s Pinots were causing a stir, both of them being excellent and well-made, worthy representations of their vineyard roots. It’s exciting that a fairly new producer appreciates the importance of vineyard designating wines, especially Pinot. Of the 600 plus acres of pinot planted in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, each one is precious and each tells its own story. The dirt, as it were, dishes the dirt about a wine better than anyone or anything.
The first Stockwell Pinot I tasted, the 2012 from Ryan Beauregard’s Coast Grade Vineyard in Bonny Doon, made my mouth do that thing that only true Pinots do: smile with a pucker of blissfully Burgundian delight. There’s an immediate recognition of that classic Pinot imprimateur of soaring, gracefully ebullient acidity tamed only by the lithe and slender underpinnings of structure, and wrapped in that silky scarf of mystery that makes returning to the glass for another sip a necessity far more ardent than desire. This is what makes Pinot the seductive mistress.
Coast Grade Vineyard, which occupies what used to be an apple orchard and turkey farm back in the days when Randall Grahm’s legendary tasting room ruled the ridge, exemplifies a sunny spot with frequent fog influence. It is producing some splendid maritime-influenced fruit with a sunkissed exterior and a core of tangy, gravity-defying fog-exacerbated acid. The 2012 Stockwell Cellars Coast Grade Pinot is complexity in a glass, mingling cherry-rhubarb compote with cinnamon, rosemary, sandalwood, mossy rocks, damp redwood forest floor and dried cranberry. Simply beautiful, this should be your go-to wine with roasted duck, turkey or free range chicken.
The second Pinot was from Lester Family, a Corralitos vineyard that has quickly become the grape candy store in the Pleasant Valley area. So many clones to choose from here, from the Dijons to heritage clones like Pommard. Stockwell’s rendition is light and airy, delivering rose petals and lavender aromas, with strawberry and watermelon on the palate. One of the softest, easiest to drink Pinots I tasted at Pinot Paradise, the obvious pairing is salmon.
In addition to Pinot Noir, Stockwell Cellars also produces several Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Syrah. You’ll certainly find something here to add to your collection and appreciation of the deep pool of winemaking talent in Santa Cruz.
Stockwell Cellars is located at 1100 Fair Avenue in Santa Cruz, and is open for First Fridays each month from 5 – 9 p.m., and the 1st & 3rd Saturdays, from 2 – 7 p.m. Sometimes they open earlier: sign up for their mailing list to stay up-to-date with the latest art displays and pouring hours. The space is decorated with the work of local artists for your visual enjoyment while exploring Eric’s artfully welded wine selections.
Contact: 831.234.2178 or www.stockwellcellars.com
Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Edible Monterey Bay, Spirited, WineOh.Tv, Los Gatos Magazine and Wine Industry Network, and a variety of consumer publications. Her passion is telling stories about the intriguing characters who inhabit the fascinating world of wine and food.