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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Sojourn Cellars - Sonoma County

92 Points, Pinot Report - 90 Points, Robert Parker

After the infamous dot-com crash of 2000, many in the high tech world were left scrambling. Amidst the bust, however, came a very unexpected success story that is the basis for this month’s Platinum Series selection, Sojourn Cellars.

Ex-computer software salesman Craig Haserot decided to move to Sonoma County after the crash, hoping to pursue a new career path while escaping the cold weather of San Francisco. Haserot began playing tennis at the local Maxwell Farms Regional Park and struck up a friendship with doubles partner, Erich Bradley, who was then the winemaker at Arrowood Winery and Audelssa (both in Sonoma). Bradley specialized in producing Cabernet Sauvignons from select local vineyards.

Haserot and Bradley bonded over their passion for Pinot Noir, and began playing with the idea of making their own wine. Haserot had the background in sale and marketing, while Bradley was happy just making wine – without all the business details. It was the beginning of a wonderfully successful friendship and business partnership.

In 2001, the two made 150 cases of project Cabernet from Sonoma’s Glen Ellen vineyard – and the finished product was better than they ever could have anticipated.

“When we released the Cab, it was actually really good and we realized there was potential with our wines,” Haserot explained. “The following year, we upped the Cab production to 250 cases and then to 350 cases in 2004.”

With Bradley’s experience in making Sonoma Cabs, it was only natural that Cabernet Sauvignon would be the first endeavor for Sojourn Cellars, but it wasn’t long before their love for Pinot Noir lead to new experimentation.

“Our real passion was always Pinot, so in 2004 we decided to make 210 cases of Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir,” Haserot stated. This first Pinot release took home 95 and 92-point ratings and really set the stage for the caliber of wines produced thereafter.

What Haserot and Bradley didn’t anticipate was the reaction 2004’s Sideways movie would have on the California Pinot Noir industry. “Our sales literally took off!” Haserot enthused. The two increased their Pinot production tenfold and what started out as an avid hobby had become an incredibly successful business move.

When Haserot and Bradley brainstormed names for their budding winery, a friend aptly suggested Sojourn, which actually has two significant meanings: the French sojourner refers to a journey, vacation, or road trip, while the English sojourn implies rest, relax and respite.

“That’s how we came up with the lawn chair,” Haserot explains about the wine label’s significant depiction. “People really like it, too! It’s how drinking a glass of wine should be.”

Sojourn Cellars’ celebrated Tasting Salon concept in downtown Sonoma further promotes the winery’s appealing philosophy with a living room-type setting of cozy furniture and a dining room table (no tasting bar). Both Haserot and Bradley join guests for private 45-minute seated sessions to taste their limited production, highly rated wines – with no tasting fees.

“It’s a part of what we do,” Haserot explains. “We’re like, ‘Come on into our house! Sit down, relax…enjoy yourself! If you want to buy something, that’s great. If not, that’s OK too.’” The tasting salon is certainly unique in its personal approach to winetasting, and the customers seem to be enjoying themselves as well.

At a current production level of 5,000 cases, Haserot is comfortable with the size of Sojourn Cellars and would like to only slightly increase the production size in the coming years.

The newest achievement at the winery is the successful addition of two Sonoma Coast Chardonnays to round out the portfolio with a couple of carefully thought out white selections. Their limited production numbers and source of reputable vineyards already places them in the ‘highly-sought-after’ category – a clear distinction that these are Sojourn Cellars caliber wines.

Sojourn does not own its own vineyards, which gives them the flexibility to select fruit from some of the most celebrated vineyards in Sonoma and Napa Counties. By helping direct farming operations, the Sojourn team can assure that their grapes are produced using world-class growing techniques.

Sojourn Cellars’ most recent portfolio includes 7 Pinot Noirs, 3 Cabernets, and 2 Chardonnays from some of Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino County’s most highly coveted and desirable vineyards.

  1. Sojourn
    2009 Pinot Noir
    Russian River Valley


    90 - Robert Parker
    id: 1367