Florez 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.
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, necatarine, & 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%