Sonoma Coast AVA
One of the most reputable boutique wineries in California
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 Wine Club 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 Estate Winery (both in Sonoma). Bradley specialized in producing Cabernet Sauvignon 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 sales 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.
In 2004, they made their first 210 cases of Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir and it took home staggering 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 California’s 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 now 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 simplistic 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 tasting sessions to share their limited production, highly rated wines. The Tasting Salon is certainly unique in its personal approach to wine tasting, 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.
Sojourn does not own its own vineyards, which gives the owners flexibility to select fruit form some of the most distinguished vineyards in Sonoma and Napa Counties. By helping direct farming operations, the Sojourn team can assure that their grapes are produced using world-class techniques. Looking into the future, the Sojourn team plans on seeking out new vineyard locations to further diversify their already exceptional lineup of vineyard-designated Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.
Sojourn Cellars has become one of the most reputable boutique wineries in California, with nearly every vintage of every wine garnering 90+ scores from the top wine industry periodicals. A reputation of this caliber is rarely seen, and it’s no question that the Sojourn wines are all in high demand. Please enjoy this month’s Platinum Wine Club selection, a stellar wine from a now legendary winery. Cheers!
Map of the area
Home Ranch Vineyard
The Home Ranch Vineyard is located just 10 minutes northwest of the town of Sonoma. The 2010 vines were planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in 2002 on 101-14 rootstock and comprise 80% clone 337, and 10% each clones 191 and 15. Tight spacing (6 1/2’ x 3 1/2’) forces competition for water and nutrients, stressing the vines and resulting in a more complex wine. The first harvest was completed in 2005 and was bottled as a vineyard designate wine by Sojourn Cellars.
The vineyard sits in a small bowl, protected by the southern edge of Sonoma Mountain – a micro-climate that is on average 3 to 5 degrees warmer than downtown Sonoma. This heat allows the Cabernet fruit to achieve full maturity, and the resulting wines are dark and concentrated hence the award-winning Cabernet we feature in our various monthly wine clubs.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
We are thrilled to share with you our Sojourn Cellars 2014 Home Ranch Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was rated 92 Points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Based in the town of Sonoma, Sojourn Cellars is a highly acclaimed boutique winery specializing in the production of artisan Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The majority of our wines are sold each year directly to our mailing list members on an allocation basis.
We source grapes from celebrated vineyards in both Sonoma and Napa Counties, and we help direct vineyard operations to assure that our grapes are produced using world-class growing techniques. We consistently produce remarkable wines with a hands-off natural winemaking style that showcases the character and personality of the individual vineyards and wine regions. Sojourn feels passionate about creating high-quality wines and always being accessible to the people who buy and enjoy our wines. We offer seated, by appointment wine tastings in a casual sit-down environment and we pride ourselves on always putting the customer first.
Our Home Ranch Cuvée is built on a core of clone 337 Cabernet Sauvignon from Home Ranch Vineyard in southwest Sonoma Valley, planted by proprietor Craig Haserot in 2002. Weather patterns in Sonoma in 2014 were ideal for ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. We benefited from the moderate heat and dry conditions as the grapes matured at an even, optimal pace. This is a showy wine, with complex aromas of blueberry and cocoa leaping out of the glass. It has a pleasant, soft entry with seductive, silky tannins. The dark fruit aromas express themselves early with just a hint of mint from the neighboring Eucalyptus trees. The texture is big and lush with fine tannins that linger on the finish.
Rodgers Creek Vineyard
Rodgers Creek Vineyard is located between Sonoma and Petaluma in the Sonoma Coast AVA of California. Specifically, the Rodgers Creek Vineyard sits at 300 feet above sea level in the heart of the Petaluma Gap, which constantly funnels wind and fog from the Pacific Ocean to this special site. The Petaluma Gap influence combines with the volcanic soils here to produce a truly distinctive Pinot Noir defined primarily by its earthy character.
Sojourn Cellars is known for their terroir-driven wines from exceptional vineyards, and the owners are thrilled to source fruit from this fantastic property. The Sonoma Coast AVA contains more than 500,000 acres, mostly along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. It extends from San Pablo Bay to the border with Mendocino County and is known for its cool climate and high rainfall relative to other parts of Sonoma County. Sonoma Coast is home to over 2,000 vineyard acres and is celebrated for its world-class Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, and Syrahs.
Erich Bradley - Winemaker
A native Californian from the San Francisco Peninsula, Erich Bradley became interested in wine when his family bought a twenty-six acre ranch in Sonoma County's Valley of the Moon in 1998. Since then, Bradley studied winemaking at U.C. Davis and viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College before gaining incredible experience from winemakers (and mentors) Richard Arrowood and David Ramey.
In 1999, Bradley started as a harvest lab technician at Arrowood Vineyards and Winery that eventually lead to a full time winemaking position. He also began making Cabernet Sauvignon for Audelssa Winery and worked closely with winemaker/consultant David Ramey for a couple of years. Bradley continues as winemaker for Audelssa today.
He found a great partnership with Haserot when forming Sojourn Cellars in 2001, and the two continue to enjoy experimenting with small lots of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon each harvest. In his free time, away from the winery, Bradley enjoys playing tennis and golf with friends and family.