Under Vine Since 1849 - Eden Rift is among the oldest, continually producing estate vineyards in California. A remote, pacific refuge located under the shadow of the Gavilan Mountain Range, the estate rests on the San Andreas Fault and is part of the Cienega Valley AVA. Only 20-miles from the Pacific Ocean, this site benefits from an ideal, temperate maritime climate as well as the coveted calcareous soils requisite in the cultivation of vivid, energetic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. An historic, head-trained block of Zinfandel, planted in 1906, still thrives outside the estate’s main residence, The Dickinson House, built that same year.
A native son of San Francisco, Christian grew enamored of early California history as a young man. More precisely, he became captivated by the early wines of California, for they struck him as living archives; liquid time- capsules, that harkened back to a more rugged, adventurous time in the Golden State’s history. His first apartment in San Francisco consisted of a simple coffee table, a chair, a bed and cases of wine, many of which he acquired at the wine store where he worked, stocking shelves. His paychecks at the time were spent almost entirely on feeding his then-nascent fascination with wine.
Ambitious and inquisitive, he became a serious student of the world’s benchmark wines after meeting the inimitable Martine Saunier of Martine Wines. Representing such iconic brands as Rayas and Leroy, Martine became Christian’s mentor and profoundly shaped his relationship to the enological world and his place within it. More recently, he played an integral role in Coravin, the maker of a sophisticated wine preservation tool, where he helped establish the brand across Asia.
After visiting the Cienega Valley, Christian became aware of the land upon which Eden Rift stands today. Intrigued by its vibrant history and the calcareous, granitic, limestone and mineral-rich soils throughout, his intuition compelled him to believe that Burgundian varieties would and should again thrive in this isolated, wind-swept mountain canyon.
Raised in the township of Hollister--- just a few miles as the crow flies from Eden Rift---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 heavily stylized approach. His mentors in wine include Tony Soter, Josh Bergstrom and Jim Prosser, of Oregon. He performed stages at New Zealand’s Neudorf and Martinborough Vineyards, and was Assistant Winemaker at the neighboring, iconic estate, Calera.
When you look at the way history is treated in the world, it’s often treated as something in the past, but history is not past us; the creation of history is in progress all around us. The present is a momentary fulcrum where potential events are confirmed and plans become memories. It doesn’t slow or wait while you try to catch up. The wine business feels this march especially acutely, as vintages come, and come, indifferent to whether or not you’ve successfully recruited interns... Continue »