Where's Linus? "Orange" California 2022
Where's Linus? "Orange" California 2022
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Jenny Lefcourt on finding Chris… and Linus:
“I was searching for good-quality organic wine in California at a moment when we thought there might be 100% tariffs on all European wine, in January 2020. There was a horrible feeling of “I might lose it all”. I spoke with some huge negociant houses and I just couldn’t move forward. Then I spoke to Chris on the phone. I immediately knew we would do tons of projects together. He is a truly special human being. I’ve never met a winemaker who delves into the extreme details of the techniques of winemaking while talking philosophy. Chris does. It is like meeting a philosophy wizard of the cellar. Plus, he and his family had a “Ridin with Biden” ice-cream cake! How awesome is that?”
“To make things even more personal, the Where’s Linus? label is a collaboration between my husband and my brother.. An abstract map of California… The dream of where to go to find what you are looking for. We all need a dream these days, and when people I love collaborate on moving along that road, it’s pretty great.”
“They say crisis is an opportunity… and that definitely rings true in this case!”
Chris Christensen on the coop with J&F:
“Working with J+F is pretty amazing! I’m a big believer in allowing the grapes to determine their own path, and this partnership is a perfect opportunity to be less of a winemaker and more of a grape-shepherd, guiding the fruit on its journey from grapes to wines… I know it sounds cliché, but it’s totally the vibe – and I think it comes through in every bottle. Furthermore, with the reach and reputation of Jenny & Francois, Where’s Linus? has opened up new avenues for me to expand my advocacy for diversity and inclusion in the wine industry. All in all, working with J+F was pretty much the biggest silver lining for my year 2020.”
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Chris Christensen never thought winemaking was an actual career path for people who weren’t born into a winery or vineyard until he went on a wine tasting trip to Sonoma during his Junior year at Stanford. Although originally fueled – as Chris himself admits – by the idea that knowing a thing or two about wine might impress girls, Chris’ curiosity about wine quickly turned into a real passion.
And also a real career: although Christensen originally thought he’d just make a couple of harvests for fun before getting a “real” job in banking (which did shortly happen, for about a year), his true calling won out. So here he is, still making wines for both his own brand called Bodkin Wines (named after a battle in the Hundred Years War; Christensen is a huge medieval-history nerd) and companies like ours that are looking for delicious, approachable wine.
As an African American vintner, Chris also works to promote diversity and inclusion in the wine industry through speaking engagements, podcasts, and mentorship opportunities for aspiring vintners and winery owners. His work has earned him much kudos, including a place in the Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 industry shakers in 2020. Praised for both his activism and self-taught yet skilled winemaking, Christensen is indisputably one of the figures to watch in the American wine industry, and we’re extremely happy that we can do so with a glass of his/our Where’s Linus? juicy wine in hand.
From Jenny & François:
Winemaker’s note: “This vineyard is one of the cooler places in our region, which benefit from the chilled winds of the nearby River Danube, especially during hot summers. This factor allows for the intensive aromatic and fizzy acidity in the grapes to be preserved. Specifically, the red gravel (iron) brings minerality and the typical “pepper” to our Grüner Veltliner.”
Soil: red gravel and loess. Estate-owned and farmed by Christina’s family, certified organic.
Varieties: Gruner Veltliner
Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and pressed as whole bunches. The juice is fermented spontaneously in stainless steel in a long, slow ferment thanks to the cold cellar temperatures. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, with a small addition of sulfur.
Personality: a beautiful image of its variety, this GruVe mingles apple, bright acidity and peppery undertones in just the right proportions. Pairs well with fried chicken and light fish and seafood, or go for Wiener Schnitzel or pork knuckle if a full-on Austrian experience is required. The winemaker recommends to shake the bottle a bit before serving.
Christina Netzl, the congenial winemaker behind our Christina wines, speaks about her personal journey in such a compelling, passionate and sweet way that we’ll just let her do the talking here: “I grew up with my sister on the mixed family-run farm owned by my parents and grandparents, cultivating different grains, corn, sugar beets, breeding pigs and growing some vines. Lending a hand almost everywhere on the farm, I fell in love with wine production (and snacking on food from our gardens and the neighborhood) at a very early age. I loved being in the vineyards, helping in the cellar, and telling our customers the stories behind the wines. My future occupation was crystal clear to me: I am becoming a vintner!”
“My parents later focused fully on wine-growing and gradually built up the winery to the 28 hectares we have now. I learned everything about “classical” wine production from my father while working alongside him in the vineyards and the cellar. But, fascinated by all the microbiological processes behind the scenes, I decided to gain more knowledge by studying enology and wine management. An internship for a London wine importer was such an eye-opening moment: it is where I got to know sooo many different wines and styles from all over the world, unbeknown to me before.”
“Fascinated by this diversity and impressed by organically produced wines from small producers all over the world, I decided to focus on finding the typical style of our wine-growing region Carnuntum when I joined my parents back home at the winery in 2007. Increasingly concerned about soil conditions, micro-climates, and nature in the vineyards, my husband and I decided to gradually turn our vineyards organic in 2013. (The fact of raising our two little daughters had a strong influence as well, as you can imagine.) In 2018, we asked for official organic certification, and the 2021 vintage was our first officially certified one.”
“Over the years, I’ve also been experimenting with different low-intervention methods in the cellar. I fell in love with them and the living wines they yield, and I ended up adding my own range of natural wines to the more classical ones ‘inherited’ from my father.”
And that’s how our paths crossed: Jenny was looking for a tasty and lively natural wine from typical Austrian varieties and Christina and her Carnuntum soils offer exactly that! We said yes and never looked back, as Christina wines quickly became one of the most popular bottles in our book thanks to their indisputable drinkability and eye-catching labels, which joyfully celebrate the beneficial critters living in the vineyards. As Jenny puts it herself: “The labels of Christina wines, art-directed by my husband, are a tribute to the beneficiary insects that inhabit the vineyards. Not all bugs are bad – these useful little critters help manage pests and build soil health and biodiversity, which is so important in natural winemaking!”
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