Cru Podcast | Stories From The People Behind Wine



Cru shares the stories of the people behind wine. Each week we share with you one interview with an influential person in the wine industry. Guests include Brian McClintic MS, Whitney Adams, Michael Cruse, Richard Betts MS, Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Marissa A. Ross, and Dustin Wilson MS.Subscribe on iTunes and to our email newsletter at


  • How to Visually Tell Your Story with Heather Daenitz

    04/05/2020 Duration: 01h01min

    Heather Daenitz is the founder and photographer of Craft & Cluster, a photography and social media consulting company focusing on brands in the wine and beer industries! It was while working for a vineyard management company in Santa Barbara County that Heather rediscovered her love of photography and found a previously unknown interest in social media management. She was asked to start an Instagram account to showcase the practices of the company and decided that if she was going to do this social media thing, she was going to do it right; opting to only post high quality, original images that told a story. After almost two years of photographing, upgrading her camera equipment, and learning everything she could about social media management for the company she worked for, she decided it was time to create her own business. She wanted to help wineries and breweries create beautiful imagery that would tell the stories behind their brands. Thus, Craft & Cluster was born! In this episode we dig into the

  • Chatting All Things Chillable Red Wines with Kathryn and Tug Coker

    27/04/2020 Duration: 01h34min

    As you know, I generally interview amazing wine folks to learn about their stories and coax out a bit of knowledge and advice. Today’s podcast is a little bit of a different format however. Here’s what’s up. The other day I reached out to an incredible power couple of the wine world, Kathryn and Tug Coker who together are married with two tiny humans running around the house, operate all things Esters Wine Shop & Bar in Santa Monica, and have recently launched a new wine podcast called The Long Finish where they take time to unwind, recap the week, what’s inspiring them in this time, and of course pop a bottle to enjoy and discuss. So we hoped on an ever so handy Zoom call and spent a while hanging out to record a collaborative podcast episode chatting about chillable red wines and life to co-publish it on both of our podcasts. Fun, right? The question that led to The Long Finish starting is, “What are we drinking tonight?” So, what did we drink? 2019 Las Jaras Glou Glou from Mendocino. A super gulpable,

  • Sculpting a Truly Coastal Wine with Rachel Martin & Marbue Mark

    20/04/2020 Duration: 01h17min

    A Virginia native, Martin was present at the inception of what is now considered one of that state’s premier wine producers, Boxwood Estate Winery, in 2005. As Executive Vice President of Winery Operations, Martin’s job was to oversee all facets of production, sales and marketing of Boxwood’s award-winning whites, rosés and Bordeaux-style red blends. Martin’s forward thinking led directly to Middleburg having its own wine identity separate from the more generic Virginia designation, making her well suited to again start from scratch with Oceano Wines. Jancis Robinson noted Martin’s marketing savvy in her book “American Wine.” Marbue Marke earned his enology degree from Davis and, subsequently, added to his academic resume with an MBA from Sonoma State University. His practical experience began at J Winery in Sonoma, followed by a series of moves, each adding another piece to the puzzle that is winemaking. At Cosentino Winery, he learned about the rarefied world of high-end Napa wines. He was then a barrel eno

  • Re-imagining the Path from Grapes to Glass with Brian Smith

    14/04/2020 Duration: 01h01min

    Winc is a unique winery in that they make over 100 individual SKUs of wine from around the country at a range of price points. On top of that, their direct-to-consumer first model and mass utilization of Digital marketing mixed with a heavy dose of customer feedback has enabled them to continue to craft wines that their audience is looking for. With a 684% increase in new member sign ups between March 15 2020 and March 28 2020 and an 80% increase in revenue in March over February, the company is seeing some incredible growth. Previous to founding and growing Winc with his partners, Brian founded successful finance and fashion startups. Additionally, he created the wine program for the tech-enabled Clo Wine in New York and founded the millennial cult brand Jolie Folle rosé. SEE THE SHOW NOTES HERE: GET 10% OFF FROM EPISODE SPONSOR, BRICK & MORTAR AND DELTA WINES WHEN YOU SHOP NOW! ENTRE CODE CRU AT CHECKOUT. LEAVE A RE

  • Carey Vanderborg Interviews Cru Host, Chappy Cottrell

    09/04/2020 Duration: 56min

    This is a bonus episode of sorts. Recently I sat down with Carey Vanderborg @careydrewsomm on Instagram Live to turn the tables and interview me, Chappy! For those who don't know Carey he is a sommelier at Press Restaurant in St. Helena, California. In this down time he's started interviewing some of the top talent in Napa Valley Kellie White, Chris Phelps, Carlton McCoy, and many more. He's going live at 5pm each week day on Instagram.  SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST HOP ON THE EMAIL LIST JOIN THE CRU ON INSTAGRAM

  • Exploring the Crossroads of Farming & Winemaking with Natalie Bath

    06/04/2020 Duration: 01h04min

    A native Californian, growing up in St. Helena, Natalie came back to the Napa Valley after graduating college and fell back in love with the beauty of the Napa Valley. Growing up with a Master Sommelier father, she knew if she wanted to change career paths to the wine industry she would need to do something different. Natalie did a harvest at Etude in 2010, embracing the long hours, manual labor, and comradery that comes with cleaning. She was hooked! Natalie spent the first part of the 2011 vintage in the Southern Hemisphere at Villa Maria in New Zealand and the second part of 2011 at Littorai in Sebastopol, getting her first experience with biodynamics working under Ted Lemon. Not knowing where to go next, a conversation with her longtime friend, Samantha Rudd, turned into an opportunity to work harvest at Rudd Oakville Estate in 2012. “It was like finally coming home”, Natalie says. “I grew up playing in the vineyards and running around the property as a kid. Something just felt right.” When harvest finish

  • Making Contemporary Wines of Israel with Guy Eshel

    30/03/2020 Duration: 01h14min

    Born in Tel Aviv, Guy grew up between California and Israel, building a strong bond with both lands. After a harvest internship in Napa Valley, Guy decided to pursue winemaking professionally, and he graduated from the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology in 2013. He has worked at Cliff Lede Vineyards and Whetstone Wine Cellars in Napa Valley, Domaine Francois Villard in the Northern Rhone, and Clonakilla winery in Canberra, Australia. Most recently, before moving back to Israel to join Dalton Winery as head winemaker in 2015, Guy worked at Broc Cellars in Berkeley, one of California’s preeminent urban wineries. GET THE SHOW NOTES: JOIN THE CRU: FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM:  CRU COLLECTIVE WINES: 2019 Delta California Chenin Blanc There are only a handful of producers in California making stunning Chenin blanc and Delta is one of them. This wine full of characters c

  • Wine Business x COVID_19: A Roundtable Discussion

    25/03/2020 Duration: 01h06min

    A few days ago I had the idea to get a handful of amazing wine professionals together to discuss what’s actually going on in the wine industry right now during this COVID_19 quarantine time. I wanted to get a pulse on how everyone is feeling, what sales are looking like in various markets, how this immediate transition to everyone pushing sales online is both working and not working out for folks. I wanted to understand what people are doing to authentically connect with their audiences while offering support and where these professionals think the industry and market as a whole will be when we come out of this thing. I sat down with 9 incredible professionals from Sonoma and Napa Counties to enjoy a quarantini, but more importantly to have a real conversation of the trials and tribulations we’re going through. These amazing folks provide a lot of insight and new perspective along with actionable tactics, strategies, tools to apply to any kind of wine business you’re running or working in. We also discuss the

  • How to Create Context in Storytelling and Wine with Matt Morris

    23/03/2020 Duration: 01h20min

    When you discuss wine, context is everything. Whether the topic of conversation is a specific region, grape varietal, producer, the context in which that topic is discussed leads the participants and audience to understand what the story and purpose is. In order to tell a story, how do you create that context? Insert Matt Morris. For over a decade Matt has been working with some of the top wine and food producers and brands in northern California such as Abreu, Bond, Cornell, Heitz Cellars, Herb Lamb, Lorenza, Realm Cellars, The Restaurant at Meadowood, Charter Oak, Press Restaurant, Quince, Noma in Copenhagen, Goop, Skywalker Sound, and many many more. His work has focused on telling stories visually in a not-so-obvious manner by providing audiences the context of a deeper meaning. In recent years, Matt made the leap into winemaking originally with winemaker Benoit from Realm Cellars and now Francoise Peschon of Arujo, Vine Hill Ranch, and Cornell. Matt & Francoise are focusing on the revival of Charbono

  • Showcasing the Character of Organic Old-Vine Vineyards with Alex Pitts and Marty Winters

    15/03/2020 Duration: 01h22min

    Maître de Chai translates to cellar master, or the person responsible for the development and aging of wine. By extension, the humble cellar master is the person responsible for the management of the winery. Established in 2012, Maître de Chai is the personal project of Marty Winters and Alex Pitts, two friends who met in the kitchen of the famed two Michelin star Cyrus in Healdsburg, California. Their focus is on showcasing old-vine, organically farmed classic varietal vineyards. With experiences on the floor of The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood and in the cellar of Abe Schoener’s Scholium Project, Marty and Alex had a tri-fold education with focus on classic cooking and wine producers while experimenting in the cellar with varietals and winemaking techniques. Together they look to make wines of high quality in a way that best showcases the sense of place where the grapes are grown and the personality of the vineyard. From the ground to the bottle, the character of the wine is the focus of t

  • Learning a New Terroir with Chris Carpenter

    09/03/2020 Duration: 01h05min

    Since 2012 he has travelled to McLaren Vale numerous times per year to oversee the winemaking for the Bordeaux varieties at Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard, covers a steep cut of country from the ridgetops above the village of Clarendon to the Onkaparinga River in the gorge below. Since its establishment in 1971, the Hickinbotham vineyard has become a part of Australia’s wine heritage, supplying fruit to produce many of Australia’s greatest wines. GET WEEKLY CRU MAIL HERE! Chris holds a degree in biology from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and an MBA from the University of Illinois, Chicago. While there, he played big-ten football and worked at the local bars. His friends were Chicago artists and musicians; he packs his trombone when he comes to Australia. During a visit to Napa Valley, Chris discovered a lifestyle that combined his love of the sciences with his growing passion for culinary and wine pursuits. Soon after, he began studying at UC Davis where he earned a master’s degree in both vi

  • Making Products for How Today’s Generation Gathers with Helena Price Hambrecht & Woody Hambrecht

    01/03/2020 Duration: 57min

    I was first introduced to the powerhouse that is Helena Price Hambrecht a few years back when I was living in England and listening to the podcast Design Details on which she was a guest. Intrigued by her eloquence, her candor, and the sheer number of projects that she was working on at the time, I needed to learn more. From there, I started following her work as a photographer and creative in Silicon Valley. Fast forward several years, I’m living here in Healdbsurg, California and am introduced to a line of vermouths and wines, courtesy of the one and only Sara Morgenstern, made by Woody Hambrecht. Sara introduced them to me as we recorded a podcast episode in what is now Haus’s Healdsburg production facility. At the same time, I met Helena, IRL. The connections came full circle. At the time, I didn’t know Woody’s background, but was stunned by the quality of his products at an incredible value. At Barndiva, where I’m the wine director, I’ve been pouring Woody’s Alysian Sauvignon Blanc from their estate Gris

  • The Human Element: A Brief Discussion with Steve Matthiasson

    26/02/2020 Duration: 07min

    This is a brief discussion that occurred between Steve Matthiasson and myself before we started recording for the podcast episode published previous to this publishing. In this conversation, Steve and I discuss the human element in wine in regards to terroir. This subject came up after myself speaking to comparative tastings of white Burgundy and California Chardonnay, the differences between the two in terms of minerality and richness, followed by the stylistic differences. Steve argues that the primary difference is the human element and style, which more often that not is left out of the conversation of terroir.

  • The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence in Farming and Winemaking with Steve Matthiasson

    23/02/2020 Duration: 01h19min

    Steve dreamt of farming his entire life. He became an obsessed gardener and cook while studying philosophy in college. In 1994, while back in grad school for horticulture after three years as a bike messenger/wannabe farmer, he found a job in vineyards and orchards working for a small sustainable agriculture consulting firm. In 1999 he co-authored the California manual on sustainable vineyard practices. In 2002 he started consulting on vineyard practices in Napa. He still loves the challenge of solving vineyard problems for others, but since 2003 the primary focus has been on his own family farming and winemaking with his wife Jill. Steve is a life-long student of the craft of viticulture. Eric Asimov has said of Steve’s wines, “Matthiasson wines bear an agricultural stamp, as fresh, lively and alive as the best produce from a farmers’ market.” Steve is a James Beard Award Finalist in 2018 & 2019, and has been named Winemaker of the Year by both the San Francisco Chronicle and Food & Wine Magazine. Le

  • Bringing Small Production Wine to the Market with William Whelan

    17/02/2020 Duration: 01h17min

    William Whelan is the Vice President of Wine for Winestyr, an online and physical retail space operating on a direct-to-consumer and wine club model. Winestyr gives you unprecedented access to a curated collection of wines from the over 7,000 wineries in the United States. Most of these producers are actually too small to warrant the attention of retailers so they are genuinely hard to find. Until now. They’ve combed the country for the best producers, met with hundreds of winemakers, and tasted thousands of wines. Producers that they work with include Matthiasson, Drake Whitcraft, Katie Wilson, Blair Guthrie, Sandhi, Halcyon, Martha Stoumen, and Julien Fayard. As the Vice President of Wine, Will is responsible for the continual growth of the Winestyr portfolio of incredible producers from around the country, educating staff weekly on wine, and curating the educational materials for each wine that go out Winestyr members. Learn more about Will and WInestyr with the show notes here.

  • The Voice of a Site with Cory and Mike Waller

    08/02/2020 Duration: 01h32min

    Mike and Cory Waller are brothers raised running around the hills of Hollister, California. After years of work, travel, and discovery, they find themselves crafting wines a mile away from each other in the Cienega Valley with Mike the winemaker of Calera Wines and Cory the winemaker for Eden Rift Vineyards. Cory grew up exploring the forests, canyons and river beds of the Cienega Valley. To this day, he knows the back roads of this remote appellation like few others. He counts local farmers, ranchers and fisherman in nearby Monterey Bay among his cadre of friends and colleagues. To describe him as non-interventionist winemaker would be an overstatement, for Cory possesses a strong point-of-view. While vine health is crucial, Cory favors the fruit of vines that struggle profoundly to produce smaller, yet clearly delineated yields. In the cellar, neutral vessels, native yeasts and varying degrees of stem inclusion, play a strong role in a wine’s elévage, as he prefers to transmit the voice of a site, over a he

  • Finding Belonging in the Mountains and Vines with Bertus and Ali van Zyl

    02/02/2020 Duration: 01h17min

    Bertus and Alli are the owners and winemakers of Belong Wine Co. based in Napa Valley making Rhône and fringe varietals from the El Dorado Foothills. With 1 ton of fruit and a whole lot of gumption, started Belong Wine Co. in 2017 to celebrate everything they hold dear: love, adventure, and a sense of exploration. They grew up on opposite ends of the globe - Bertus in Cape Town, South Africa and Alli in the Bay Area sugar hamlet of Crockett. Bertus knew he wanted to be a winemaker at the age of 15. He went on to study Viticulture and Enology at the University of Stellenbosch. He has worked in the cellar at Deetlefs Estate, Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons, Glen Carlou, Hess Collection, Chappellet, and Regusci and has been in his current position as the winemaker for James Cole, Tank Garage, and T-Vine wineries since 2012. His happy place has always been out in the vineyards, where he can be found in short shorts. Alli still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. She has always found great joy i

  • On Writing and Wine with Esther Mobley

    26/01/2020 Duration: 32min

    She writes primarily about California wine, though her beat also includes beer, spirits, drinking culture, cults and, occasionally, doughnuts. In her regular Drink Up column, she reviews Bay Area bars. She leads the editorial team for The Press, the Chronicle’s digital guide to visiting wine country. Her weekly email newsletter, Drinking with Esther, includes a reading digest, product reviews and a behind-the-scenes look into the world of wine. In 2018, the California Newspaper Publishers Association awarded Esther first place in Feature Writing for her story on a winery born from a California cult, and first place in Agricultural Reporting for her examination of Napa Valley's future. The Association of Food Journalists recognized Esther's work as the Best Writing on Beer, Wine or Spirits in 2017 for her profile of farmer Chuy Ordaz. Her work on the 2017 wine country wildfires was vital to the Chronicle earning the Scripps Howard award. She has twice been a finalist in the Louis Roederer International Wine Wr

  • Philosophies on Winemaking and Scaling a Wine Business with Josh Phelps

    18/01/2020 Duration: 54min

    Josh Phelps is the founder and winemaker of Grounded Wine Co. making delicious, all-American, and approachable wines across the west coast while based in St. Helena, California. Josh’s roots run deep in Napa, raised in a winemaking family, he was exposed to the industry from a young age, starting his very first endeavor in the wine world, “Napa Valet”, at age 15. He continued to build his knowledge of the business through college, selling wine, working the harvest and creating wine for friends with his father, Chris Phelps (of Dominus Estate). As a Napa local, his philosophies on winemaking and business are advised from luminaries of the wine world he calls his mentors and friends like Joel Gott, Kimberly Jones and Leslie Rudd, and of course, his own father. With Grounded Wine Co., Josh hopes to build on this legacy and make his own splash in the wine world while exposing wine drinkers of his own generation to his hometown in wine country. As a part of his incredible résumé, Josh has been named to Forbes’s 30

  • A Radically Intentional Restaurant & Wine Bar with Lauren Feldman and Tanner Walle of Valley Bar & Bottle

    13/01/2020 Duration: 01h04min

    Valley Bar & Bottle is a neighborhood restaurant, wine bar, and wine retail establishment that simultaneously reveres and revitalizes Sonoma cuisine and hospitality. Launching as a dinnertime restaurant, Valley will gradually incorporate daytime services. Valley aims for a sustainable approach to all aspects of its business, from waste-reducing and eliminating practices to radical intentionality behind the economy and environment they will create for their employees. As Sonoma locals, they’re looking for creative ways to support and promote the community. They are dedicated to making sure those that work alongside them are able to live fully in the place they serve.  Lauren Feldman and Tanner Walle, two of the co-founders, manage the small front-of-house team, while co-founders Emma Lipp and Stephanie Reagor helm the back-of-house. The beverage program includes local producers as well as imports, with an emphasis paid to organic & biodynamic agriculture practices. The menu is driven by the availabilit

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