Ceritas is a stunning producer of very cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from sites along the northern Californian coast. Led by husband and wife duo, John and Phoebe Raytek, the wines are not typically Californian. The Chardonnays channel all the focus and salinity of the Pacific Ocean. Crushed chalk, oyster shell and lime zest are typical characters on the palate, closer in style to Grand Cru Chablis than anywhere else in Burgundy. Just fantastic wines to enjoy over several hourse. 'Tucked away just east of the town of Occidental, Charles
Heintz vineyard is one of the region's oldest historic vineyard sites. Charlie's grandparents purchased the Heintz Ranch a century ago in 1912, planting Zinfandel the same decade. The vineyards thrived in this idyllic setting until Prohibition, at which time the vineyards were ripped out in favour of vegetables and apples. But this site simply begged for wine grapes, specifically Chardonnay, with its classic Goldridge sandy loam soils, and the location just above the fog line, offering abundant sunshine with cool ocean breezes. So, in 1980, with the assistance of winegrowing pioneer Warren Dutton, Charlie planted Chardonnay. These three-decade-old vines are one of the oldest Chardonnay vineyards on the Sonoma Coast. At the time, this was the westernmost planting of Chardonnay, which was thought to be suitable only for sparkling wine due to its limited ripening potential.
Defying conventional wisdom of the 1980s, Heintz Vineyard has since proven to be superb Chardonnay terroir, its inherent richness balanced by bright acidity and briny minerality. We happily share the organically farmed section with a fellow winery. While the fruit ripens slowly due to vine age, patience has its rewards: not only is the quality outstanding, but also the contrast of this Chardonnay to our other Chardonnays shows its capability.' In the vineyard we allow our sustainable farming practices to be dictated by observation and empiricism rather than by prescriptive farming. All of our vineyard sites are either farmed bio-dynamically or are in the initial stages of being converted to biodynamic farming methods. We believe that biodynamic farming methods, and focused and site-specific attention, give the vines the greatest opportunity to experience each growing season, to respond accordingly, and ultimately to yield grapes with the unmistakable flavours and smells of their time and place.
In the winery, we keep things simple. We look at winemaking from a standpoint that owes more to tradition than it does to cutting-edge innovation ” we more often find ourselves trying to understand what not to do rather than what to do. The crafting of each vintage is like a journey, in which nature sets its own course. Our role is to adapt, to proceed with humility, and to learn.'