Winemakers come and go, but few are as worth meeting as Eileen Crane, the winemaker and CEO of Domaine Carneros in the Napa Valley. She’s in San Diego on Tuesday March 31, for a Bubbly Night Out cocktail party and dinner showcasing her sparkling and still wines at The Winesellar & Brasserie.
She’s a font of fascinating historical and cultural information on champagne; she also crafts some of the most distinctive and satisfying sparkling wines made in America. Whether the Brut Cuvée, the dreamy Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs (my favorite), or the Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour (my other favorite), all the Domaine Carneros sparkling wines share a French toastiness and structure balanced with the ripe juiciness of California fruit. It’s quite something to visit the gorgeous chateau style winery, which recalls the Louis XV style Chateau La Marquetterie near Epernay, France where Domaine Carneros parent company Taittinger hosts its Maison de Champagne receptions.
Crane has been blending fine sparkling wine for 30 years — longer than anyone in the country. She studied nutrition and attended the Culinary Institute of America when she became fascinated with winemaking. So she picked up an enology degree at UC Davis and then made wine at Domaine Chandon and Gloria Ferrer before Claude Taittinger selected Crane to lead Domaine Carneros.
As much as I’m looking forward to tasting her wines, I can’t wait to ask her about the organic cultivation at their estate vineyards. As Crane explains in this Q & A in The Organic Wine Journal, they’ve been quietly working towards the organic certification that their four Carneros vineyards received in late 2007 from the California Certified Organic Farmers. Domaine Carneros sparkling wine made from organic grapes can’t be far behind!