David Bruce Winery
Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
Earning a spot in the Pinot Noir Hall of Fame, David Bruce continues to produce world-class wines
David Bruce has won so many awards for his wines that at one point he stopped entering competitions because he ran out of room to keep all the medals and trophies! During the last two years alone his Pinots have won over 90 major awards. Praise from major wine magazines and national wine critics seem never ending. “Pinot Noir doesn’t get any better!” says renowned national columnist, Jerry Mead. “The pick of the Pinots!” agrees Steve Pitcher of the San Francisco Chronicle. In Bob Thompson’s book, The Atlas of California Wines and the Pacific Northwest, he considers David Bruce a benchmark for Pinot Noirs.
“My goal in life has always been to make the greatest Pinot Noir ever,” reveals David Bruce. Perhaps he already has made the best. In 1993 the prestigious Vintner’s Club of San Francisco (the oldest and most famous organized tasting group in the U.S.), culminated a two year search for America’s best Pinot Noir. Included were wines from virtually all the well-known Pinot producers in the country — Calera, Au Bon Climat, Sanford, Dehlinger among the many. The David Bruce 1990 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir took top honors. The Vintner’s Club repeated the event in 1994 and again David Bruce came out on top, this time with the 1991 vintage. “Just to be included in the taste-off is a thrill,” says a modest David Bruce. “But being named as the top wine is indescribable. It is the high point of my wine making career!”
David Bruce’s journey to the top of the wine world began while attending medical school at Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California. There, he became friends with a winemaker who had a small parcel of land in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He introduced David to a variety of different wines and shared his knowledge of winemaking and passion for wine. It planted a fast growing seed within him. David quickly became obsessed with wines and the entire winemaking process. “It was like a vacuum that developed inside that just needed to be filled,” he recalls. Soon he was reading every book on wine that he could find and developing his own theories on winemaking.
In 1960 David began to make wines of his own. “The deciding factor to begin producing wine,” he recalls, “was realizing that the conditions were perfect to make the world’s best wines right here in the Santa Cruz Mountains.” At the same time, he started his Dermatology practice in nearby San Jose. His medical background is helpful in winemaking he says, “Because it gives me the ability to look at problems in the vineyard and decipher more effectively what actions to take.” That first year’s experimental batch was all of 200 gallons. However, the quantity (and quality) continued to increase each year until his operation became a full-fledged bonded winery in 1964. David simultaneously continued his medical practice and winemaking for 25 years, until retiring from Dermatology in 1985.
The David Bruce Winery is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Los Gatos, California, about a 90 minute drive south of San Francisco. It is situated on 25 acres of land, about 2200 feet above sea level. In fact, it’s located only a stone’s throw away from Loma Prieta summit, which was the epicenter of the huge 1989 “San Francisco” earthquake. The numerous fault lines that run through the area have created knife-like cliffs that are common sights. Winemakers in Santa Cruz County insist that these massive and powerful global shifts have brought special characteristics to the soil that make this wine-growing region unique.
In a business dominated by giants, David Bruce has cut a wide path. Not in terms of the quantity he produces, but by the quality of unusual and adventurous styles he has developed. He is often recognized as the forefather of “blush” wines, having made a White Zinfandel as early as 1964. He has made both dry and sweet late harvest Zinfandels and late harvest Grenache. His interest in Grenache and Petite Sirah in the late sixties was well before the mainstream.
David Bruce Winery is best known for award winning Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Other varietals produced are Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon all of which have earned cases full of medals as well. These wines account for 35,000 cases of production each year.
After 32 years in the wine business, David Bruce is at his pinnacle. He has solidly earned a spot in the Pinot Noir Hall of Fame. This month’s Platinum Wine Club selection of Bruce’s 1991 Estate Pinot Noir is an outstanding example of why he has reached such rarefied air. We had to pull teeth to get enough of it to feature, but we think you’ll agree the wine is more than worthy.
Map of the area
Gold Medal Wine Club is extremely pleased to begin a glorious new year of wine tasting with a pair of multiple Gold Medal winners from David Bruce Winery. Dr. David Bruce has been producing award winning wines for decades. As you can tell by taking a quick look at the medals he's earned for the featured wines this month.
David Bruce Winery is located in the Santa Cruz mountains near Los Gatos, California, about a 90 minute drive south of San Francisco. It was started in 1964 by Dermatologist David Bruce, who still operates the winery and serves also as the winemaker. The winery is situated on 25 acres of land, about 2200 feet above sea level. In fact, it’s located only a stone’s throw away from Loma Prieta summit, which was the epicenter of the huge 1989 ‘San Francisco” earthquake. The numerous fault lines that run through the area have created knife-like cliffs that are common sights. Winemakers in Santa Cruz county insist that these massive and powerful global shifts have brought special characteristics to the soil that make this wine-growing region unique. After the devastating earthquake which all but leveled the city of Santa Cruz, several area wineries banded together to produce a wine from which proceeds would go to earthquake relief and reconstruction. The wine was appropriately named ‘Epicenter Cuveé.”
In a business dominated by giants, David Bruce has cut a wide path. Not in terms of the quantity he produces, but by the quality of unusual and adventurous styles he has developed. He is often recognized as the forefather of ‘blush” wines, having made a White Zinfandel as early as 1964. He has made both dry and sweet late harvest Zinfandels and late harvest Grenache. His interest in Grenache and Petite Sirah in the late sixties was well before the mainstream.
David Bruce Winery is best known though, for big Chardonnays and exquisite Pinot Noirs. Few in the wine industry dispute the fact that Santa Cruz Mountain Pinots rank among the finest in the country, and perhaps in the world. The prestigious Vintner’s Club of San Francisco, a group of highly respected and knowledgeable wine experts from within the industry, in 1993 assembled the best American Pinot Noirs produced in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Their taste-off resulted in David Bruce’s 1990 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir winning the title as the Finest in the Land. Then in a similar competition held in 1994, he again took top honors against the likes of notable Pinot Noir producers, Calera, Sanford, Au Bon Climat, and Hess. (David Bruce’s highly regarded 1991 Estate Pinot Noir will be one of the featured selections in the next Platinum Wine Club.)
Until the famous so-called ‘Judgment at Paris” in 1976 when a California wine won top honors against the best French wines, one did not mention California Chardonnays in the same sentence with the great White Burgundies. In 1993 the International Wine Exposition in Chicago held a re-enactment of the 1976 Paris tasting and included the same great French and American wineries. David Bruce’s 1991 Estate Chardonnay came out on top. Incredibly, in second place behind David Bruce was a $900.00 bottle of Bâtard-Montrachet!
The Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are estate grown, each representing roughly half of the 25 acres. Three other varietals currently being produced are Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon which have all earned cases full of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals as well. These wines account for approximately 35,000 cases of production each year. Obsessed with quality, David has little desire to expand beyond the current size. In fact, he is considering cutting back on production to put even more emphasis on quality.
The two featured wines this month from David Bruce have collectively won dozens of medals in the 1993/1994 competitions—too many to list! We know you will thoroughly enjoy both.