Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Duxoup Winery sits on West Dry Creek Road and has no signing to the winery which is  within a few hundred feet of the road.  What makes this winery more than interesting is the owners and their philosophy. Andy and Debra Cutter founded this small (2,000 case) winery in the early 1980's with the idea of doing all of the major work themselves and not growing so large as to hire more people. This has served them well as they produce a line of wines which are more than user friendly and also represent excellent dollar value.  Andy cut his teeth in the wine industry with many of the famed names in California wine. He began as a cellar rat and worked his way into winemaker. Debbie worked as the head of laboratory and quality control early on for Franciscan Winery and continues to insure quality control.  This turns out to be a perfect mix of talent and ideas.  Duxoup currently makes around 1,400 cases and will ramp up to 2,000 in the near future, that is their maximum production capacity for their life style.   


            GAMAY NOIR  $15.00

 They have a half acre of Gamay Noir which was called Napa Gamay in the past.  From this patch of land they produce their only estate wine. The last good California Napa Gamay in my memory was by Raymond Vineyards in the mid 1970's.  The '74 was a stunning wine rich round and delicious.  The next vintage was not nearly as good and they decided to bud over to Sauvignon Blanc.  This is not only a fun wine to drink but it has layer upon layer of flavors which you do not find in other wines of this weight or style, it is not traditional Gamay. Production is often less than 1,000 bottles per vintage!! 

           CHARBONO  $19.50

Charbono  comes from the Frediani vineyard in Calistoga with two thirds young vine (50 years) and one third old vine (100).  Inglenook for decades made the only Charbono produced in quantity in California. Andy has been making Charbono from this vineyard going on thirty years!!   Classic deep red color and mixed smoky fruit bring forth a medium bodied red which works well with a wide variety of foods.  

          SYRAH  $21.00

  The fruit is obtained from  the Ray Teldeschi vineyard on Dry Creek Road. Ray has been farming this land for almost 50 years. One of his famous clients from years back was Joe Swan who helped put Dry Creek Zin on the map during the '60's and 70's.  This Syrah has the typical white pepper nose and mild not over the top tannins which allow you to drink more than a few glasses without getting palate fatigue. Very polished flavors and aromatics that make this a great dollar value.

        DOLCETTO  $18.00

 Also sourced from Teldeschi vineyard.  This is a larger framed version of what you get from Italy. That being said it gushes forth with ripe fruit flavors and a soft velvet finish.  What  this wine offers is perky ripe fruit flavors which show well with lighter foods or anti pastas.  The tannins cut through and compliment cheeses, pate, sausage and salads with assertive dressings or  ingredients like parsley, cilantro and root based vegetables. 

        SANGIOVESE  $19.00

 Made in the round mouth coating style which gets your palate to salivate and welcome Italian dishes with tomato infused pastas or roasted garlic chicken just to get started. Andy egg white fines his wines which helps reduce the heavy tannins without stripping the wine of its character.  

                                                   WHY DUXOUP

These are well crafted wines which are hard to find.  They reward the buyer with a bottle of unique style and flavors.  Andy Cutter sources the highest quality fruit and and produces small lots of dollar value wine.  Go online and find the local retail outlet nearest you, I know you will not be let down.   Be aware that he does not have an open door policy but will welcome you if given enough lead time.  He will charm you with his knowledge of wine and amusing tales of how  he became a wine maker extordinaire.  

Visit to Gallo of Sonoma Wineries

Recently I was able to visit the Gallo of Sonoma production facility and vineyards.  It was quite an eye opener as I observed many state of the art features in the winery.  The one thought that often comes to mind when people think of Gallo is that it is the largest family owned winery in the world.  That being said, they are also at the top of the game with regard to quality and production technique.  Many in the wine world think highly of Robert Mondavi winery and the advances he helped bring to the market since the opening of his winery in 1966.  The Gallo family at the same time has brought the quality level of all ranges of wine to highs not previously seen.  They are able to do things on a scale which involves many people at all levels that guarantees quality fruit and its transformation into top flight wine. 


I visited and tasted at the Frei Ranch in Dry Creek Valley.  Wines tasted were the Laguna series, Rancho Zabaco vineyard designates, and Gallo Signature series. After observing the barrel ageing area and fermenters we moved on to Mac Murray Ranch and tasted wines produced from that specific vineyard which was planted in 1992.  Kate Mac Murray told stories of how her dad, Fred, loved farming in Sonoma. He raised cattle and grain on the land which became vineyard upon the sale of the ranch. Gallo has restored and improved the roads and the water stream that runs through the property.  All of the wines tasted were of superior quality and true to type.  Very well balanced and in harmony alone or with food. 


Gallo owns thousands of acres of land throughout the entire state of California, and is moving into Oregon and Washington.  They also contract out large amounts of fruit from various growers in all areas of California .  They pay top dollar for grapes that meet their specifications.  They are involved in all facits of the growing and harvesting of their wine grapes.


Gallo has a long time committment for the care of vineyards and land use. They practice a one-for-one philosophy which translates to one acre of open land for every acre of vineyard they own.  The company practices water recycling, cover crop, minimal spraying,  preditor animals to keep pests from damaging grapes.  River stream restoration and habitat grounds are important to the ecosystem support in vineyard growth. 


This is best seen in how they move fruit from vineyard to tanks to cellar.  Everything is run by computer and this leaves no room for error.  Vineyards are monitored for everything from frost to wind and moisture depth.  Recycling of field material is composted and either sold or plowed back into the fields.  


This is the bottom line in any winery.  Gallo has a core of excellent winemakers and cellar staff. They produce not only large lots of wine but also smaller single vineyard wines which show not only superior quality but also a deft hand in bringing out the soul of the vineyard sites on the label.  Looking at their portfolio indicates a high ratio of quality to dollar value. 


Gallo is making wine from wide areas of the west coast but also foreign countries.  They continue to be industry leaders in both marketing and volume but also in farming as well as environmental issues. 

Gallo is a business, and they do it better than any other large scale producer in America.  They understand the market and respond to trends which affect sales.  Their objective of producing high quality wine at many price points is a success.  Consumers are the ultimate winners in this  market as they are able to choose a wide range of wines which provide very good drinking at favorable pricing.   Keep an eye on the moves of Gallo in the premium wine business.