In 2012, Todd Gottula and his wife Erin Brooks decided to start making wine. They didn’t know a ton about winemaking, but they were eager to learn and they knew longtime wine exec Robert Morris. Having contracted for grapes without a winemaker or a facility, they started Grand Cru Custom Crush with Morris (in a hurry) – a place where boutique artisanal wineries could pool their resources and focus on their wine production.
Now, almost a decade later- they have their own superstar winemaker, dozens of boutique wineries that make wines at their facility (including Donald Patz for his Maritana project) and an incredibly devoted following. A lot can change in a decade.
How they did it was simple– hard work. The husband/wife duo spend endless hours at their facility, asking questions, tinkering, networking, you name it. Years and years behind the scenes sharpening their tools, learning new tricks and hiring the very best people is why this winery has seemingly shot out of the gates like a fireball.
Now with 95+ scores from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Vinous, they’re hardly catching anybody by surprise, but as Antonio Galloni notes, “the wines at Ernest get better with each passing vintage.” These days, the couple has given winemaking duties to the former Flowers winemaker, Joseph Ryan. All he did in this latest vintage, was make a fleet of wines that all earned 92-points or more from Vinous Media. These guys are like clockwork!
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92 Points, Vinous
The 2019 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is another stellar wine in this range. Crushed red berry, mint, cinnamon, spice and orange peel are all beautifully lifted by a touch (33%) of whole clusters that are impeccably balanced in the wine’s frame. Suave and caressing, the Sonoma Coast Pinot is a terrific introduction to the range. Like so many wines at Ernest, it delivers serious bang for the buck.
Erin Brooks and her husband, Todd Gottula, started making wine in 2012. That year, they contracted for grapes with no winemaker and facility in which to make the wines. “I just figured it would all work out,” Brooks told me recently. Well, it has. The wines continue to improve under the stewardship of Joseph Ryan, who has added a bit of textural depth that was at times missing in some early efforts. There two labels; Ernest Vineyards focuses on the Sonoma Coast, while Edaphos is home to a number of experimental wines, including a superb Carignane this year.
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