John Locke of Birichino Wine knows what that feels like. He and business partner Alex Krause have been trying to get the new Birichino tasting room on Church Street in Santa Cruz to the point of readiness for months now. He admits that he probably should have started the process of planning a tasting room 5 or 6 years ago, but it appears that the wait is finally over for the brand that began in 2008.
Having secured their final approvals today, they will officially be open for business as of this Thursday, November 30.
They hope to have a true “grand opening,” projected for Thursday, December 14.
For regular business hours, they plan to be open Thursday – Sunday, from noon until closing, which will likely be 5:00 or 6:00 and later on Friday.
Asked if he considered other towns for a tasting room for the brand, Locke says, “Genoa and Barcelona come to mind, but that is about it. Alex lives a 15-minute walk in one direction, and I, a 20-minute walk in the other.” So perfectly Santa Cruzan.
The two have a combined four decades of winemaking between them, including California, France, Italy and beyond. Their hallmark is to aim for the perfect balance of perfume, poise and puckishness—a word that would fall from few lips as swimmingly as it does from Locke’s.
They are fortunate to have access to some unique own-rooted 19th and early 20th century vineyards, mostly in marine-influenced climates. Their style is minimal intervention, mostly favoring native fermentations, employing stainless or neutral barrels, minimal racking and fining, and avoiding filtration altogether when possible. All the while, the simple goal is “to make delicious wines that give pleasure, revitalize and revive.”
The current tasting flight will certainly revive you. It happens to include many of the historic vineyards the pair have been so fortunate to discover and access, and includes the Pet Nat Malvasia Bianca, a 2015 Chenin Blanc from the Jurassic Park Vineyard in Santa Ynez, a 2015 Cinsault from the Bechtold Vineyard in Lodi—planted in 1886 and believed to be the oldest remaining Cinsault vineyard in the world, a 2014 Pinot Noir from the Lilo Vineyard, and the 2015 Old Vine Grenache from the Besson Vineyard in Santa Clara which was planted in 1910. Locke says that occasionally certain other things may “accidentally fall open” as well.
Asked what distinguishes the wines they make from the wines made by other Santa Cruz wineries with Tasting rooms in Santa Cruz, Locke replies, “ We certainly have a particular style which is probably a bit out of the norm for Santa Cruz. We tend to pick a bit earlier than most people. I wines do not trade and power or heft. We prefer perfume, complexity and a sort of energetic quality that is difficult to produce in strongly muscular wines. Part of our schtick to proclaiming that our wines defy, rather than exert gravity, and I think that is my favorite impressionistic way or describing them. It should also be noted that we do not currently have in bottle Chardonnay, Cabernet or Merlot. We do specialize in wines made from very old vineyards. This year we have purchased grapes in vineyards planted in 1930ish, 1920ish, 1922, 1922 again, 1910, 1900ish and 1886. I think that is pretty amazing.”
Go taste amazing for yourself.
The Birichino tasting room is at 204 Church Street in Santa Cruz. The phone is (831) 425-4811.www.birichino.com