Crazy Flower Wines is owned by two sisters – Kari Flores and Nikki Moore. Kari manages a small 1 acre vineyard located in the northern reaches of Napa’s Carneros Appellation. The Carneros appellation is not just the rolling hills located around Highway 12 in the southern part of the valley but actually extends north west of the town of Napa. Their vineyard site is in a protected microclimate within Congress Valley which while much cooler than up valley is warmer than the more San Pablo Bay influenced southern part of the appellation. Crazy Flower’s vineyard is planted entirely to Merlot.
Kari is from Sacramento and graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Environmental Design. She moved to the Napa Valley in the late 1990’s. At that time her small property was surrounded by vineyards and as she said she could have either landscaped the property or plant vineyards. Making the smart decision she chose the latter and sold the fruit for several years to other producers.
Then a certain wine movie came out in 2004 and she remembers cringing in the theatre when hearing Miles the main character in “Sideways” utter his disparaging expletive laced remarks about Merlot. Over the next several years as demand for Merlot dropped the producers who were purchasing her fruit no longer had a need for the Merlot grapes and it was at this time she decided to make her own wine.
Her expertise is in the vineyard and during a recent visit to the property we could see her vineyards are meticulously managed. All the farming is literally done by hand. Larger wineries in the valley have gotten all the press about the benefits of Biodynamic farming but this type of farming can certainly be employed by a small vineyard – and commercial vineyards do not get much smaller than Crazy Flower. Kari is a strong proponent of sustainable and organic farming and has started the 4-year process to become an official Biodynamic vineyard. There are many benefits to this type of farming including improving the quality of the land and using less water. Olde English Miniature Babydoll Southdown sheep graze between the vineyard rows at times, compost from other animals is used and beneficial insects are introduced. Crazy Flower Vineyard has also been certified as a Fish Friendly Farming site.
Kari and Nikki’s great grandmother was a prolific creator of “hand hooked” rugs and one of her rugs appears on the label of their first vintage (2006). With a plethora of rugs to choose from, they have no shortage of label options for future releases!
Judd’s Hill Winery operates a Micro custom crush facility in the southern part of the Napa Valley which is where the Crazy Flower wines are made. This is one of the more unique operations in the Napa Valley as this program is setup for those who do not own a physical winery and who have small productions. Small boutique producers such as Crazy Flower often do not have a large enough production to qualify to make wine at other custom crush facilities. However Judd’s Hills’ micro-crush is setup for only the tiniest of producers – some who make commercial wine and many who make wine solely for their own use. At just over 200 cases released they are one of the larger clients here. Judd’s Hill winemaker is Ken Vigoda and he also makes the wines for Crazy Flower.
The 2006 Merlot is a fruit forward wine designed to be pleasurable and very drinkable upon release. It has an elegant bouquet with notes of earthiness or dustiness, graphite and raspberry. The palate is smooth with flavors of red cherry and red berries and just a touch of spice. The finish displays soft fine grained tannins and is super long. We should also mention this wine is priced very reasonably and already it has done well in a number of tasting events including at the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle competition and the well known Wine Festival at Hilton Head.
As of press time, other vintages are already in barrel include the 2007 and 2008. Kari also manages her Uncle’s vineyard near Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa (neighboring Sonoma County) and sources Cabernet Franc from his vineyard which will be used to blend a second wine for their 2007 vintage. This will be a very unique (for Napa) Cabernet Franc / Merlot blend named Naomi, in honor of their great grandmother. Crazy Flower’s younger Merlot wines all show excellent fruit and structure and these wines carry a pleasant earthiness showcasing this particular single vineyard.
The name Crazy Flower certainly is a noticeable name and came about when Kari was mixing up some organic compost and one of her friends called her a “crazy flower” – her last name is Flores which in Spanish means flower and with some of her great grandmothers rugs depicting flowers, this was the perfect choice to name their wine.
As of press time the best way to acquire their wine is via their website – with such a low production they aren’t distributed although you can find the wine at the W Hotel in San Francisco. The wine is priced very reasonably. For more information visit: www.crazyflowerwines.com