Judy Schultze interest in wine and winemaking goes back about 25 years, when she first lived in Chicago, but took numerous business and pleasure trips to Europe, and began learning about winemaking in France. The attraction to the world of wine continued when Judy and her husband Jim lived overseas, first Australia for five years, where they came to love Australian wines, particularly the small boutique wineries near where they lived in Melbourne; then England for two years, which enabled them to make frequent trips to the vineyards of France, Italy and Spain.
Judy and Jim Schultze are the sole proprietors of Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards and Winery. This pair is dedicated to making the finest wine possible combining the best of Burgundian tradition with recent advances in winemaking knowledge. The sole focus of this winery is on the two great varietals from Burgundy, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, grown in their own estate vineyards.
In the summer of 1994, Judy returned home to the central coast of California; in 1995, land adjacent to their property in Corralitos became available, and this is when Judy and her wine-loving partner began to think of growing grapes. The two of them started doing research as to which grapes were most suitable to their microclimate in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, and found that it was uniquely suited for pinot noir grapes. (Wine Spectator has identified the Santa Cruz Mountain appellation as the most underrated wine appellation in the world.)
On a windy ridge above the vineyard are two old California oaks, and it is there, on barely an acre, that a special Burgundian clone has been nurtured in what is called the RC Block. This ridge provided the inspiration for Judy and Jim’s son James, who thought up “Windy Oaks” and it stuck. The family planted the first three acres of pinot noir in the spring of 1996, the Bay Block (named for the view of the Monterey Bay), and Henry’s Block (named for Judy’s father). These original three acres have now grown to 14 acres. To meet Judy’s desire for a white Burgundy, one acre is now planted to chardonnay.
In 2000, The Schultze’s acquired the rights to four acres of land in nearby Aptos where they planted several pinot noir clones on what has become known as our Diane’s Block. This was named after our partners in that vineyard, Richard and Diane Klein. The site is slightly warmer than our Corralitos vineyards and produces a slightly more fruit-forward pinot noir.
In the fall of 2001, the winery was built with 2000 square feet of winery space. In total, Windy Oaks now has 18 acres planted to pinot noir and one to chardonnay. Both grapes are made into wines in the classic Burgundian tradition, using a process that employs very gentle handling throughout, and no filtering or fining. Judy and Jim emphasize that the result is wines that emphasize their terroir. We will have to agree.
If you decide to visit Judy Schultze at Windy Oaks and you begin to think, “There can’t be a winery here”! Don’t give-up! Just keep following the signs, it is there. Once you arrive and have discovered the glass of wine that suites you just right – take a glass, perhaps bring along a few snacks to go with it. Then, take that glass and go for a short walk up toward the oaks to a small picnic area where you can enjoy that wine, the beautiful views and just take it all in. The little ride is worth it.
Oh! Please tell the folks at Windy Oaks that California Corks sent you! Tell Judy and Jim hello for us if you would!
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