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CRU Wine Company - Santa Maria Valley, Central Coa


CRU Wine Company offers a rare, boutique perspective from the Central Valley

CRU wine Company has a portfolio of wines that embrace the incredible diversity of California’s premium viticultural areas, the CRU Wine Company offers a rare, boutique perspective from the Central Valley.

Richard Spencer never thought he would one day find himself in the wine business, much less the owner of Madera, California-based CRU Wine Company. The Wisconsin native and long-time resident of Fresno was deeply involved in the construction business and took part in building many of North Central California’s hospitals, schools and numerous other large buildings.

At one point in his life, Spencer thinks it was around the age of 40, he began drinking wine as his choice of beverage.

“It was almost like it was the thing to do socially,” Spencer recalled in a recent interview. “Before it was always beer, but the more I drank wine the more I enjoyed it. My wife Karen and a couple of our really close friends actually made a number of trips over the next few years to Bordeaux and some of the other great wine areas of the world.

”Spencer also began collecting wine and now has a cellar with too many bottles to even count. He says he enjoys Bordeaux a great deal but is equally at home with a number of top California wineries.

Just over a decade ago, an unusual event occurred that ultimately thrust Richard Spencer into the wine industry.“I had a friend who owned a winery that wasn’t doing very well,” he recalled. “He wanted to get out of the business and I wanted to help him out, so I would up buying some of the used equipment.

The idea at the time was to move the equipment somewhere else or maybe sell it. Well, one thing led to another and we finally decided to do it ourselves. We located a nice 19-acre piece of land in Madera with an empty building on it and agreed to do it up right.”The CRU Wine Company was founded in 2003 and today serves as a jewel in the Central Valley, where smallish boutique wineries are the rarity rather than routine.“We wanted to do everything first class,” Spencer added. “With my background in construction, I was there to see it all through.”Spencer admits to being a hands-off owner and had chosen to employ a top-notch management team for CRU Wine Company.

He did however, have a hand in deciding to separate CRU from others in the Central Valley who relied on Central Valley grapes for their wines.“We wanted to utilize grapes from a number of sources that would provide us the ability to make a wide range of wine styles, from both the cool, coastal regions and the warmer inland appellations. We have managed to stick with that philosophy and it seems to have worked out quite nicely,” added Spencer.

The CRU Wine Company actually represents three unique portfolios that each embrace the diversity of California’s premium viticultural areas. The flagship CRU Wines brand focuses on premium Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the cool coastal climates of Monterey, Santa Lucia Highlands, and the Santa Maria Valley. The Mariposa Wines brand represents Bordeaux style wines and Mediterranean inspired blends from Napa, Paso Robles, and the Sierra Foothills, and the Yosemite View brand is the company’s approach to entry-level, every day drinking wines from northern California’s wine country.

The name CRU, by the way, is a French term identifying prestigious vineyards and the wines made from them, embodying the classification of select vineyard sites and their unique indigenous style - a perfectly suited name for this handcrafted brand of wines.

The CRU Wines brand has grown to include four Chardonnays and two Pinot Noirs, with just 3,000 cases produced overall. These wines have tiny production numbers and therefore are nearly impossible to find outside of the winery’s tasting room in Madera, California.

Since 2006, the wines have been made by acclaimed winemaker Ken Post, who brings a dedicated, passionate energy to the CRU team and its portfolio of site-driven wines.

As the CRU Wine Company celebrates its ten years of success in California’s Central Valley, owner Richard Spencer has much to be thankful for and, along with the rest of the crew, looks forward to what the future will bring.



Native Californian Ken Post

Ken began his career on the family ranch in Paso Robles. There, his family farmed 1,800 acres of alfalfa and various grains until the ranch was sold in the late 70’s. At that time, Ken pursued a second career in highway construction. His firm contracted with the State of California and private organizations in providing highway paving, resurfacing, and oiling services. While this was a lucrative business, Ken wished to spend more time with his family and retired at the age of 40. It wasn’t long before Ken craved more activity and decided to pursue his love of wine. After enrolling in Fresno State’s Enology Viticulture program and earning his degree, Ken began his third and final career as a winemaker in the Central Valley. He first worked for the respected small winery Oak Hollow, and then joined the CRU Wine Company in 2006. He has since been much of the spirit behind the company image and his love for winemaking shines through in each and every bottle he produces.

About The Region

Native Californian Ken Post began his career on the family ranch in Paso Robles. There, his family farmed 1,800 acres of alfalfa and various grains until the ranch was sold in the late 70’s. At that time, Ken pursued a second career in highway construction. His firm contracted with the State of California and private organizations in providing highway paving, resurfacing, and oiling services. While this was a lucrative business, Ken wished to spend more time with his family and retired at the age of 40. It wasn’t long before Ken craved more activity and decided to pursue his love of wine. After enrolling in Fresno State’s Enology Viticulture program and earning his degree, Ken began his third and final career as a winemaker in the Central Valley. He first worked for the respected small winery Oak Hollow, and then joined the CRU Wine Company in 2006. He has since been much of the spirit behind the company image and his love for winemaking shines through in each and every bottle he produces.


Old Fashioned Beef CRU Stew


Ingredients

2 Tbs. cooking oil
2 lbs. sirloin, cubed
2 medium celery stalks with tops, sliced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 medium bay leaf
1 tsp. dried marjoram
2 tsp. dried basil
2 large carrots, sliced
2 lbs. tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 ten oz. package frozen corn
1 ten oz. package frozen cut green beans
8 red new potatoes, washed and cubed
1 ten and a half oz. can beef bouillon
2 cups red wine


Instructions

In heavy 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil just to smoking. Add meat all at once and brown rapidly, stirring constantly until all of the cubes are browned. Reduce heat and add onions, celery, and spices. Cook until onion is just tender. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine. Cook over medium-low heat until meat is tender and all vegetables are very tender, approximately 1 hour. Add more wine or beef stock during cooking to keep meat from drying out. I like to coat the potatoes with olive oil, crushed garlic and basil in a baggie for two hours before roasting them for ten minutes at 450 degrees on a cookie sheet. This will add tons of flavor to your stew.



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