The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2016

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1 12  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2016 CALIFORNIA O n the rural side of the already agriculturally centric city of Madera, in the heart of California's San Joaquin Valley, CRU ¯ Winery is an oasis. Renovated from an old pistachio plant, the winery has maintained its original architecture, but owner Richard Spencer, with his background and success in construction, rebuilt its interior to include an impressive tasting room that rivals many top wine country edifices. Spencer is a Fresno native who decided to build the winery 30 minutes north of his hometown. On our visit, he confided that it only came to be after he took a chance and invested in some barrels that he was actually skeptical of buying. "I didn't know anything about the wine industry," he told The Tasting Panel during our recent visit to the winery. "I purchased the barrels from a friend going out of business." But, in the manner of a true leader and businessman, Spencer started by hiring a winemaker and cellar crew, and piecing together an all-star team that would convert an unknown brand into an award-winning winery. Madera is situated in California's fertile valley, and while this is wonderful for nut trees and table grapes, this vigorous growing environment isn't ideal for CRU's CONTROL PHOTO COURTESY OF CRU WINE CO. CRU ¯ 2014 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley. by Meridith May WINEMAKER KEN POST AND HIS TEAM STEER CENTRAL COAST FRUIT IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND PUT THE PEDAL TO TOP MEDALS CRU ¯ Winery's owner Richard Spencer (left) and consultant winemaker Larry Brooks.

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