David and Britt are two old college friends who moved to Northern California to farm grapes and make wine. There is an Odyssean tale of how we came to make wine in California, full of twists and turns. It involves St. John's College, lots and lots of books, love of the outdoors, leaving desk life for farms and cellars, Trailer Park Boys, thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and a gift of six Burgundian wine barrels from John and Alex Kongsgaard. It also includes the discovery of a welcoming community of dedicated small wine producers who have become mentors and friends.
David worked his first harvest in the summer of 2013 in the cellar at Terre Rouge in the Sierra Foothills, working predominantly with Rhone varieties. Britt took on the farming of Terre Rouge's two small organic vineyards a few months later. We made the first vintage of Krater cab franc and chenin blanc in 2014 at a cooperative winery in Sonoma County, PunchDown Cellars. PunchDown serves more than 20 small producers and is a wonderful place to make wine and learn from other winemakers in a creative environment. We are both the assistant winemakers for separate small Sonoma producers. Krater is our personal project.
Our winery name, Krater, comes from ancient Greek culture. A krater was a large decorated bowl or vase used during symposiums to mix the wine with water and serve the guests. It was the centerpiece of the room during these social events and came to have many symbolic meanings. A krater filled with wine and diluted to a moderate level of alcohol helped open up the guests for creativity, dialogue, poetry, music, dancing, and games. (We don't recommend diluting our wine with water but we do try to keep the alcohol levels naturally low.) The consumption of wine was observed as a communal activity, not a solitary act. Wine in proper settings and in moderate amounts was revered. Elevated to forms of art, kraters served as symbols for a community coming together in friendship.
Geological craters in fact take their name from these wine bowls. Craters are wonderful features of rocky planets. They cover our moon, barely changed since the great bombardment billions of years ago, and they reveal active or slumbering or long dead volcanoes on our own planet. The volcanism of earth is the great generator of new rocks and soils and lands. So our name comes from the Greek symposium and a connection to our classical studies at St. John's, and our labels evoke planet formation, active geology, and the sheer joy of gazing at the moon, craters, and falling stars.