Grower Series Part 6: The Bush Crispos

Did you know that Ram’s Gate Winery sources grapes from over nine of the most esteemed grape growers in Sonoma County? Most of these grapes are kept separate from each other throughout the winemaking process from vine to bottle, resulting in individual vineyard-designate bottlings with the integrity of each vineyard site preserved in each wine. Over the next few months, we invite you to join us here for a behind the vines introduction to our devoted growers, without whom we would not be able to craft each uniquely luscious wine.

The Bush Crispo Family-2
The Bush Crispo Family

Three generations of Bush Crispos live on the eponymous family-owned vineyard, which is nestled on a small plateau in the sprawling Russian River Valley.  Audrey Sr. and Fritz Bush were the first generation to discover the property that would soon grow enviable Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in classic Russian River elegance. Born in San Francisco in 1923, Fritz Bush found a love for wine, fermentation science (brewing beer with his father in their Bernal Heights basement), and getting his hands into anything he could at a young age. “He always had to be busy,” Audrey Sr. reminisces fondly. “He was a renaissance man.”

“And he wanted a place where he could keep himself entertained during retirement,” Audrey Jr. adds, explaining how they came to own what they now call the Bush Crispo Vineyard. “He always wanted to make wine.”

The Bush Crispo Family-1

The property comprises just 13.5 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, in equal parts of each. Located near a creek bed, which provides excellent drainage, the vines here produce deep, intense, delicious fruit with beautifully balanced levels of sugar and acidity and an enchantingly complex bouquet of flavors.  Sonoma legend Warren Dutton was a friend of Fritz Bush, and as the property’s first vineyard manager, advised Fritz to plant what would be some of the first Pinot Noir vines being grown in the valley on this site. “When you bought this place, you hit a home run,” Dutton used to congratulate Fritz.

Today, the second generation runs the show. “Chris [Crispo] is just like my dad,” Audrey Jr. explains. “He’ll be out in the vineyard all day and then go back out again after dinner…” When you meet the Bush Crispos, there is no question of their deep love for the land and for the connection to it that winegrowing allows them. When asked about their winegrowing philosophy, after a moment’s reflection, they reply “Sustainability,” in unison. “We love the land and we view ourselves as caretakers. We want it to be here for the next generation.” You can taste the passion for honest, earth-grown quality in the Ram’s Gate Bush Crispo vineyard designated Pinot Noir – but this bottling, like many of our tiny-production single-vineyard wines, is reserved for Ram’s Gate Members first, so make sure you’re signed up for first rights (here). Cheers!

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