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Crystal Basin Cellars

Crystal Basin Cellars The roots of Crystal Basin Cellars are in cooperative winemaking, beginning in 1981, and CBC has changed considerably since its inception. Crystal Basin Cellars grew from a small cooperative, to a large cooperative, to what it is today, a small commercial venture. Though much has changed, much has remained constant. Chief among the constants is the passion to make the highest quality wine possible. CBC is owned and operated exclusively by former co-op members and principals, except where child labor (not listed) can be obtained through family. We are located at Gold Hill Vineyard, near Coloma. At Crystal Basin , we are not grape growers and we don’t own our own winery space. Let’s face it, our business model is to make great wines and write as few checks as possible. We don’t even pay ourselves! Gold Hill Vineyard provides us an excellent facility at which to make the wines and a great place to host parties.


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3550 Carson Road, Camino, CA, US, 95709 Email:
Phone: 530-647-1767 Web:
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  Amador Zinfandel
Not all wines need be ponderous brutes, sometimes a simple and easy wine is what the occassion or mood requires. Therefore this Zinfandel is made in a style that will fit the bill for a picnic and quaffing wine. The wine carries a pleasant varietal character, but isn’t out to make a statement about trying to be a port. The grapes for this wine come from the Story Vineyard in Shenandoah Valley , Amador County . The vineyard is 1,300 feet above sea level, overlooking the middle fork of the Consumnes River . After hand-harvesting the grapes were lightly crushed and then fermented in small, open-top containers. The wine was pressed in a small basket press after the grape sugars had fermented down to 2 Brix in order to retain an upfront fruitiness. After settling the wine finished fermentation in small oak barrels and then was carefully aged for 17 months. All movement of the wine was done by gravity flow and was bottled unfined and unfiltered.
  Cabernet Franc - California Reserve
2002 marked the eighth harvest of Crystal Basin Cellars’ flagship wine, Cabernet Franc, from the Gold Hill Vineyard in El Dorado County . Overlooking the American River Canyon the vineyard enjoys warm days and cooling breezes at night. This micro-climate allows an optimal ripening cycle and showcases a glowing example of the intense flavors possible from Sierra Foothill Cabernet Franc grapes. Made in a minimalistic winemaking style following traditional methods the wine shows aromas of violets and rose petals along with a rich and spicy blackcherry backbone. Often used for blending, our Cabernet Franc is far better on its own – it is consistently a Crystal Basin Cellars favorite. Previous vintages of Crystal Basin Cellars Cabernet Franc have won numerous awards in wine competitions and this one should prove to be no exception. This wine will benefit from time in the bottle to mellow the tannins and transform the intense grapiness of the wine to a smooth-as-silk fruit bomb. This Cabernet Franc should be at a peak 18 to 24 months after release.
  Cabernet Sauvignon - El Dorado Reserve
The Cabernet Sauvignon vines that produced this wine are now 20 years old and are near their optimal maturity. Growing at an altitude of 1,200 feet, these vines have a late ripening cycle and produce grapes that show how good Sierra Foothill Cabernet Sauvignon can be. After hard-harvesting and crushing the grapes were fermented over a seven-day period in open-top containers. The must was punched down by hand four times a day to extract maximum color and varietal character. The wine was pressed in a small manually operated vertical basket press. After settling the wine was aged in neutral French and American oak barrels to let as much varietal character show through as possible. The wine was racked by gravity flow only, never pumped, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. This Cabernet Sauvignon benefits from the addition of 20% Merlot, also from the Gold Hill Vineyard. The rich cocoa scents and low tannins complement the Bordeaux-style fruit finish. This wine has classy varietal character with powerful berry flavors and an almost chocolaty finish. The wine is unusually approachable for a Cabernet Sauvignon still in its youth and will improve in the cellar until at least 2006 while maintaining its intense varietal character.
  Merlot - El Dorado Reserve
This Merlot shows deep classic stone fruit and powdery cocoa flavors favoring Bordeaux ’s Left Bank . This powerful wine is big and rich with huge fruit and low tannins. The 18-year-old Merlot vines in the Gold Hill Vineyard, which overlooks the American River Canyon in El Dorado County , enjoy warm days and cooling breezes at night. This micro-climate allows an optimal ripening cycle for the Bordeaux grape varietals and produces wines of great character. The grapes were harvested by hand, lightly crushed, fermented in open-top tanks over seven days, punched-down by hand four times a day, lightly pressed and moved via gravity flow. The wine was racked five times and bottled after 17 months of aging in small oak barrels. It is unfined and unfiltered. The wine is a stellar example of Crystal Basin Cellars winemaking style. It is soft and approachable now but will improve in the cellar through 2006, when the forward fruit will become less pronounced.
  Mourvedre - El Dorado Reserve
Called “Merlot of the Rhone ” by the winemakers of Crystal Basin Cellars, this wine shows depth, complexity and a rich, round mouthfeel along with hints of blueberries and the trademark dustiness of the Mourvedre variety. This wine favors Bandol, the benchmark Mourvedre-based wine from France , but with the Sierra Foothill signature of lows tannins. The grapes are from the seven-year-old Fodhla Vineyard just three miles from Crystal Basin Cellars. Wines from this vineyard gain in complexity and depth each year as the vines mature. Made in the Crystal Basin Cellars style of minimal handling and processing, this Mourvedre is approachable and delicious upon release, but should improve for up to 36 months after bottling, gaining complexity with age.
  Renegade Red - California Reserve
Renegade Red has always been one of Crystal Basin Cellars more interesting wines, combining the flavors and characteristics of different grape varieties and regions to create a greater whole, a la Gestalt theory. The grapes came from long-time Crystal Basin Cellars sources from four vineyards in three different counties. Each variety was hand-harvested, fermented in small open-top vessels, pressed lightly and aged separately in new and used oak barrels. Blending trials were held to experiment with different approaches to the final blend. Once the final composition of the blend was determined the wines were blended together, then bottled unfined and unfiltered. The intense Grenache notes of this wine favor the wines from the Cote du Rhone, where the best elements of the individual components are drawn out and knitted together. The Grenache adds a deep, brooding and lingering strawberry fruit element to the wine, Mourvedre contributes depth and dustiness, Syrah provides smoky and pepper flavors, all topped with a hint of oak. Renegade Red is perfectly enjoyable upon release but will improve for up to 36 months.
  Syrah - El Dorado Reserve
  Viognier - El Dorado Reserve
This rare and rich Rhone varietal is Crystal Basin Cellars first release of a white wine. Viognier is still rare in California but is a white grape especially suited to the Sierra Foothills. The vines are six years old, growing in the Gold Hill Vineyard overlooking the American River Canyon in El Dorado County . After hand harvesting the grapes were crushed and immediately pressed. The juice was settled for clarity then fermented for 19 days at low temperatures in stainless steel. After fermentation was complete the wine was racked into small French oak barrels for additional complexity and depth. The wine has a mysterious mix of intense flavors of honey, pears and racy grapefruit acidity with a intriguing smoky streak and a classic viscous finish.
  Zinfandel - El Dorado Reserve
This is the long-awaited follow-up wine to the 2001 vintage that won many accolades across California, including the Herbert Walker award as best Zinfandel of the El Dorado appellation. It is a joy to work with the fruit from the outstanding, high-altitude Sumu-Kaw vineyard (2,900 feet.) The end product is big and rich with a natural multi-layered port-like quality. Zinfandels from the El Dorado appellation typically carry a very pleasant raspberry flavor characteristic and that shows prominently in this wine. The grapes were crushed and fermented in small, open-top containers. After pressing and settling the wine aged for 17 months in mostly neutral French and American oak barrels. Racking was done via gravity flow and the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. The light touch on the oak and minimalistic winemaking style causes all the Zinfandel fruit character possible to show through in the finished wine. This wine is drinkable now; cellaring is recommended for no more than four years from bottling in order to enjoy its fruit-forward character.


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