Ask around the Dry Creek Valley about Duxoup wines and chances are nobody will have ever heard of this winery. I asked at two different tasting rooms to test my theory. One person thought I probably had the wrong name. The other was shocked to learn that such a winery could exist without her knowing about it.
And that’s the way Andy and Debbie Cutter like it. They love the slow, comfortable life of making wine the way it used to be before wine country tourism became the thing to do. They make their wine in a gravity-flow wine cellar just below their home in the hills of the Dry Creek Valley. You won’t spot a single sign on the roadway to indicate a winery exists there. The Cutters do not have a tasting room, nor do they have any wine to sell out of the winery. Once the Duxoup wine is bottled, it is shipped off to the Sonoma Vintners Wine Co-op. Andy and Debbie do not want any part of the wine scene. They like the anonymity of their hidden wine country abode.
The winery began in 1981, and it is fascinating that hardly anyone knows about it, except for the old-time winemakers who knew Andy and Deb during their early days. Andy began his wine career at Freemark Abbey and Deb at Franciscan Winery. Currently, they are making 1400 cases. They make some unusual wines for Dry Creek: Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Gamay Noir, and a Charbono. The only well-known varietal they produce is a Syrah, and it happens to be the only wine they sell that is over $20 a bottle. The Cutters source all their grapes except the Charbono from Ray and Lori Teldeschi, who have been farming their family vineyards for 50 years. The Charbono comes from the Friediani Vineyards in the Napa Valley in Calistoga.
We met up with Andy Cutter with our friends and fellow wine bloggers, Mike and Mary Beltran. Mike met Andy in the early 1980s when Andy was peddling his wine to a Sausalito wine shop where Mike worked as a wine buyer. Andy has some fantastic wine stories to tell, especially the ones about his great friendship with famed winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff.
While we sat and conversed, Andy opened a bottle of his 2010 Charbono. Two-thirds of the Charbono is a new vine, averaging around 30 years old. The last third comes from old vine Charbono over 100 years old. The vineyard workers drop fruit in the new vines, but the old vines produce few clusters and in a sense thin themselves, so no need to physically drop the fruit. The Charbono was quite tasty, and as Andy told stories, the wine just seemed to get better and better.
Andy and Deb make wine the old-fashioned way. The wines are on the lighter, less oaky side, and pair nicely with food. Just one example of Andy’s approach to making wine: Andy purchased an old wine bottle machine from Lava Cap winery in El Dorado County. The wine enters the bottle via gravity flow, but Andy thought that was too fast for the wine. He wanted it to be a much slower fill, very gentle on the wine. He and a friend invented some pressure adapters above the machine to slow the pace below gravity speed. Can you imagine!
If you want to try any of the Duxoup wines, they are best obtained through retailers and restaurants by way of their distributors. The distribution partner here in California is Springboard Wines.