Florèz Wines was started by James Jelks in 2017. James grew up in the Santa Cruz area and was schooled in winemaking at nearby UC Davis. He worked in wineries all over the world for 10 years before returning home to make wine in the Santa Cruz area. He is farming some vineyards himself, always dry-farmed, and is also sourcing some fruit from organic and sustainable vineyards. He always works with native yeasts, does not use additives except for a minimal amount of sulfur at bottling, and does not filter the wines.
Read more about James and his fellow young Santa Cruz winemakers shaking the habitual in this San Francisco Chronicle article.
- Free Solo
- Shangra-li Mendo Savvy B
- Noble Oble
- The Pope’s Smoke
- Chardonnay Moonmilk
- White Rhino Grenache Blanc
Free Solo — Back to the top
Heritage Blend – Zinfandel, Mourvedre, Carignan, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah, Black Muscat. Santa Clara Valley, CA – 69 cases
Why:This is California heritage. I fell in love with mixed vineyards because they are relics from the past, and they represent what the first settlers were planting to drink. From a tiny family vineyard just about 100 years old. This is a finite resource and I make all the wine from this site.
Vineyard notes: 5th generation Italian owned. Planted ~1920. Organic with one watering per year. They do it how they learned from the previous generation. It used to be about 18 acres until the 101 was built, now only 0.6 acres remains. On alluvial loams.
Tasting notes:Bright-eyed red fruits. Pomegranate, cranberry, & dried cherry with a mentholated signature. The unique vineyard creates a wine with a singular personality that can’t be replicated.
Vinification: All varieties picked together and co-fermented. 1/3 whole cluster was incorporated in the fermentation with destemmed fruit on top. Slow pump overs once to twice a day, and the occasional gentle punch down. The wine was pressed at 7 brix to mitigate alcoholic extraction and to preserve freshness and vibrancy. Fermentation finished in neutral oak. Left sur lee for 10 months. Racked once before bottling. The wine was produced without any additions. Unfined, unfiltered, no sulfites.
Hand harvested on: September, 18, 2018 Brix at harvest: 22.3
TA: 6.1 g/l
pH: 3.65 g/l
Residual Sugar: 0.0 g/l Alcohol: 13.5%
Shangra-li Mendo Savvy B — Back to the top
100% Sauvignon Blanc Mendocino County, CA – 93 cases
Why:Really good fruit. When I learned there was some Sauvignon Blanc available from Feliz Creek, I jumped on the opportunity. The vines are growing in such a way that most commodity farmers would say ‘rip and replant’. These are also the types of vineyards that can produce intensely distinctive wines.
Vineyard notes: Just out of Hopland this vineyard is surrounded by oak woodlands. The vineyard is in decline and the low yields produce intense & concentrated fruit. The soils are alluvial loams left from the Russian River. Organic, dry farmed, no till.
Tasting notes: Fruity & mouthwatering with a lo-fi edge. Passionfruit, grapefruit, nectarine, & bitter almond. Plenty of fruit with texture and salinity.
Vinification: The fruit was destemmed and left on skins to macerate overnight to benefit from Sauvignon Blanc’s aromatics and structure. The juice was sent to stainless tank with some grape solids and allowed to ferment natively. Sometimes a-typical for SB this wine also went through native malolactic fermentation which contributes to a natural stability. The wine was racked off of fermentation lees at about 6 months, and once more before bottling. This wine was produced without any additions. Unfined, unfiltered, no sulfites.
Hand harvested on: August, 25, 2018 Brix at harvest: 20.1
TA: 6.5 g/l
pH: 3.35 g/l
Residual Sugar: 0.0 g/l Alcohol: 12%
Noble Oble — Back to the top
100% Pinot Noir Santa Cruz County, CA – 60 cases
Why: This coastal vineyard is very close to the town of Aptos. The vineyard was an old apple orchard and is planted 880 yards from the ocean. The microclimate is unique and the vineyard is bathed in gentle California sun, fog, and mist. Fruit set can be marginal, and yields are low. With just enough warmth throughout the season to ripen the fruit, it makes for an extremely distinctive wine.
Vineyard notes: Aptos vineyard grown sustainably without herbicides (glyphosate free), or pesticides, dry farmed. Heavy coastal influence.
Tasting Notes: An intensely distinct pinot. Wild black plum & cherry, herbal & smokey, hazelnut & crushed acorn. A very attractive build. A good acidity, a gentle but firm tannin, and toned flesh.
Vinification: Clones include La Tache and Dijon selections. 1/3 whole cluster was incorporated in the fermentation with 2/3 whole berries destemmed on top and allowed to ferment to dryness about 2 weeks. The wine was aged in puncheon and barrique for 10 months sur lee. Racked once before bottling. Unfined, and unfiltered.
Hand harvested on: September 22, 2018 Brix at harvest: 22.9
TA: 6.4 g/l
Residual Sugar: 0.0 g/l Alcohol: 13.1%
The Pope’s Smoke — Back to the top
Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – 138 cases
Why: Grenache is one of my hallmark varieties and I have wanted to work with this variety because of its suitability to California, its propensity to make both vin de soif and vin de garde wines, and its ability to translate terroir.
Vineyard notes: Bates Ranch grown sustainably without pesticides & herbicides, dry farmed. Prudy Foxx is the consultant and she is an advocate of soil health and eliminating glyphosate in the vineyards she works with. Spilling out of the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains is the infamous Bates Ranch.
Tasting Notes: I often explain that my Grenache is a light and fragrant style which is dictated by the vineyard much more than winemaking because often people expect a boozy ultraripe wine from Grenache. This delicate expression of Grenache showcases a very aromatic nose of crushed strawberry, hibiscus, & tamarind. A lite and silky wine with a low abv. Ever so slightly petillant, best served with a light chill.
Vinification: While an October pick is considerably late by California standards, I was the first to pick to preserve natural acidity. A whole berry native fermentation lent a semi-carbonic character to the wine, and delicate pump overs were utilized to maintain the integrity of the berries. Pressed just before dryness to maintain freshness but also based on tasting the skins. The wine was aged in puncheon, and barrique on lees for 10 months. Racked once before bottling. Unfined, and unfiltered.
Hand harvested on: October, 6, 2018 Brix at harvest: 20.2
TA: 5.2 g/l
pH: 3.9 g/l
Residual Sugar: 0.0 g/l Alcohol: 12.1%
Lovebirds — Back to the top
50% Grenache Blanc, 50% Grenache Noir Dunnigan Hills, CA – 102 cases
Why: This wine is part of my continued exploration of Grenache. I believe the variety is aptly suited for California, and I love the terroir expressiveness ranging from vin de garde to vin de soif wines. This wine is a co ferment of Grenache Noir and Grenache Blanc to make a light red wine with some texture. Serve chilled and enjoy.
Vineyard notes: Certified CCOF organic. The vineyard is located in the foothills on the eastern side of the Northern California Coast Ranges. The soils are pinkish gravelly alluvial soils permitting good drainage which is essential to quality wines. This is a classic hot California climate and Grenache thrives here. They utilize some unique canopy work to protect the fruit from overexposure. They keep things diverse with fruit trees, olives, and bees on site.
Vinification: The Grenache Blanc & Grenache Noir were destemmed evenly together and allowed to begin a native fermentation. Gentle pump overs were used to keep the beginning ferment healthy and after 6 days the grapes were pressed and the fermenting juice was sent to stainless tank to finish fermentation. After 5 months sur lie the wine was racked in preparation for bottling. Unfined, unfiltered, with no other ameliorations except 10ppm SO2 at bottling.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of sun dried linen, crushed strawberry, and mulberry. The palette is quintessentially Grenache with a certain ash quality amongst the fruit. Tannin from the maceration, and a medium acidity give this wine structure. Easily enjoyed chilled with a citrus salad, roast chicken, and rosemary potatoes in the sun. Gardenside, oceanside, poolside.
Hand harvested on: September 5th 2019 Brix at harvest: 23.0
TA: 5.2 g/l
Residual Sugar: 0.0 g/l
Chardonnay Moonmilk — Back to the top
Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – 148 cases
Why: The coastal side of the Santa Cruz Mountains provides a unique climate especially for cool weather varieties. If you look around it is quite obvious what makes it different. Cool fog and mist from the Monterey bay envelope redwood forest which is a stark contrast from much of California’s sun burned hills.
Vineyard notes: This vintage is comprised solely from a single coastal Santa Cruz Mountains vineyard that I personally farm and tend. I do the entirety of the work including pruning, canopy work and spraying. Friends do occasionally help and of course harvest is a team effort! Organic, dry farmed, no till.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of citrus, mineral, and meyer lemon curd. The pallet is textured and delicate with a notable finish. With age the wine will gain weight and power. Wonderful to drink now, but those who cellar the wine for a couple years will be rewarded.
Vinification: Fresh fruit was hand-picked by friends and family and quickly whisked away to the winery for a direct pressing. The juice was settled and racked to stainless where we patiently waited for the native ferment to kick off. Once the tell-tale signs of ferment had just begun to spark, we transferred the lightly fermenting juice to neutral French oak to allow for barrel fermentation. The wine was left sur lee and without battonage for 10 months. Racked once before bottling. Unfined, unfiltered. No additives or sulfites during vinification or elevage. 20ppm SO2 added at bottling.
Hand harvested on: September, 26th, 2019. Brix at harvest: 20.8
Residual Sugar: 0.0 g/l
White Rhino Grenache Blanc — Back to the top
2019 ‘White Rhino’
100% Grenache Blanc Dunnigan Hills, CA – 60 cases
Why: In 2019 the opportunity opened up for us to work with some fruit from Windmill Vineyard in the Dunnigan Hills. Sergio Villanueva is responsible for farming the vineyard and it is immediately apparent that he does not take shortcuts and is quietly proud of the high bar he holds. As a power combo Steve Mathiasson oversees the practices whom is known for his progressive and organic practices. In short they are growing fruit for quality and expression, in a region that doesn’t have a lot of notoriety. This allows us to make top notch wines, and keep the prices reasonable.
Vineyard notes: Certified CCOF organic. The vineyard is located in the foothills on the eastern side of the Northern California Coast Ranges. The soils are pinkish gravelly alluvial soils permitting good drainage which is essential to quality wines. This is a classic warm California climate and Grenache thrives here. They utilize some unique canopy work to protect the fruit from overexposure. They keep things diverse with fruit trees, olives, and bees on site.
Vinification: This year’s practices were in an effort to profile the identity of the fruit and site. The whole clusters were pressed gently, and the juice was sent full solids to stainless steel. A healthy native fermentation and malolactic ensued and we left the wine intentionally sur lie. Left untouched for 5 months until a pre-bottle racking. No additives, un-fined, unfiltered. 0/0
Tasting Notes: Aromas of ripe white peach, honey suckle, spice, and a touch of petrol. The palete offers richness with saline and savory qualities. A great wine for the fall to harmonize with butternut squash, scallops, and cream dishes!
Hand harvested on: September 5th 2019 Brix at harvest: 23.0
TA: 5.4 g/l
Residual Sugar: 0.0 g/l