Haarmeyer Wine Cellars is a family team, composed by winemaker Craig, his son Alex, wife Kelly, and daughter Marian. Craig started the winery in 2008 by sourcing fruit from a vineyard farmed by Ron Silva in the little town of Galt, California. At the time, he was interested primarily in making port and other wines using Spanish and Portuguese varieties, mainly because of the dry climate and the proximity of this vineyard to Sacramento. The place seemed right for the numerous varieties of Iberian grapes Ron was farming. This lead him to consider other sites and, as his mind expanded, he felt like he was, in a way, trying to define and express terroir. Soon he began using the phrase "Sacramento terroir" to describe what he was doing.

Their primary focus is on Chenin Blanc and how it expresses itself, the vineyard, and the cellar. As wine drinkers they gravitate to Chenin Blanc wines irrespective of origin - Classic Loire Valley wines, Savennières in particular, and South African old vine wines are constant reference points. The way Chenin can manifest itself is miriad and compelling. It has naturally high acidity and handles oxidative aging in such a way that the wines are refreshing and sour in their youth and nutty and complex in their old age. Chenin also seems to always express its varietal characteristics and its terroir. Chenin’s Chenin-ness shows itself even when the influence of the cellar is present. This grape is fascinating and their journey starts and ends there. They are committed to exploring Northern California terroirs through the lens of Chenin Blanc. 

Chenin may rule the roost but they also make a very special old vine Riesling, a Nebbiolo, and Zinfandel.

REGION California
APPELLATION(S) Calaveras County, Mokelumne River
PROPRIETORS Craig Haarmeyer
WINEMAKER Craig Haarmeyer

Aparicio Vineyards, Sutter Creek - Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel

Planted to Zinfandel and Carignan in 1934 at the top of Ridge Road just outside Sutter Creek CA by Santos Aparicio. The soil is a remnant of a Mehrten mud flow, which is a volcanic conglomerate of iron rich clay and andesite cobbles. This deposit overlies slate and green schists. There is no water on the property whatsoever, so the vines were established by watering them by hand from a barrel that was filled in the creek below and hauled up to the vineyard by mule. In 1973 Joe Aparicio took over for his father and planted Chenin Blanc in the same fashion; own rooted, head trained and watered by hand. Today, this vineyard is still farmed naturally and sustainably by Joe's neighbors, John and Steve Murrill

Sutter Ranch Vineyard, Clarksburg - Chenin Blanc

Located deep in the delta in the southernmost part of the Clarksburg AVA where the average temperature is lower than that of the northern end and of the Lodi AVA to the east. The wind howls through the vineyard bringing cool marine air that tempers the summer heat. The first pick here is for the Pet-Nat. The second pick is for both Pet Nat and the barrel fermented still wine. The third pick is for the young Chenin called 'SRV'. 

Cresci Vineyard, Borden Ranch - Chenin Blanc

Officially called Palmero Family, this vineyard was planted in 1983 by Gerald Cresci on a rocky swale in the Borden Ranch sub AVA of Lodi. The soils are austere: pink granite and quartz. Six of the 13 rows here are farmed by and picked by Craig and his small crew by hand, long before normal harvest time when laborers are readily available. Warm days and rocky soil help create early ripening, small clusters, which brings a concentration of aromas and flavors to the wine while maintaining high natural acidity. Although part of Lodi, this vineyard is within Sacramento County which allows 'Sacramento' to go on the label - a point of pride for Craig. 

Ghirardelli Vineyards, Burson - Zinfandel, Burger

Planted to Zinfandel and Burger in 1900 in an ancient, sandy, dry creek-bed, this vineyard yields under one ton of exceptional fruit per acre. The two varietals are field-blended whole cluster to honor traditions. 

Monarch Mine Vineyard, Forest Hill - Syrah

Situated on the top of a ridge at about 2500 feet above sea level, this is Craig's 'High Altitude Syrah'. In the summer, things still heat up but over all it's very cool on average. The soils are iron rich mud flows overlaying slate and shale.

Wirz Vineyard - Riesling

Planted in 1965. Own-rooted, head trained and dry farmed in decomposed granite overlaying limestone at about 1000 ft elevation. The 40 acres of Riesling produce about one ton per acre. The head trained vines are little shrubs that produce small clusters with tiny berries. Farmed organically.

They work only with farmers who raise organic fruit and in the cellar they do as little modern processing as possible. 

Every lot is foot trodden and basket pressed without any corrections to chemistry or sulfur additions. The juice is exposed to oxygen and racked to neutral large format barrels and casks for unaided, native yeast fermentations. The wine remains in its fermentation vessel until it is assembled for bottling. All wines are ML complete and bottled without fining or filtering.  Wines labeled 'St. Rey' wines are single vineyard designates. 

"The Evolution of California Chenin Blanc"
SevenFifty Daily
- Courtney Schiessl, 2018-09-10
"The insider's guide to Pét Nat"
- Jon Bonné, 2018-08-03
"Winemakers to Watch: Craig Haarmeyer"
San Francisco Chronicle
- Jon Bonné, 2015-12-10