Windy Oaks In The News

Here are some of the mentions we've received in the press and various trade publications.


Santa Cruz County Sentinel | Sentinel Name Dropping

NOV 06, 2011 - Santa Cruz County has long been revered by wine lovers as ''the'' spot for pinot noirs, and it seems the rest of the country is catching on. Last month, 10 local wineries represented the best of pinot noirs at the Pinot on the River event, held in Healdsburg. Jim Schultze, winemaker, proprietor and grower at Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards and Winery in Corralitos, said people came from all over the country to explore the state''s pinots. ''It's obviously an event that has gathered national attention,'' he said. The regional seminar included talks from winemakers throughout the state, describing their winemaking and grape-growing operations. A grand tasting followed. ''The interesting thing was the really enthusiastic reception from a lot of people,'' he said. ''Santa Cruz Mountains wines really stood out as terroir examples of pinot noir.''


Santa Cruz Sentinel | Stacey Vreeken, Wine Press

JUN 22, 2011 - Windy Oaks Estate sits on a ridge in Corralitos overlooking Monterey Bay in the distance. The vineyard's 990-foot elevation, soil, and its orientation to the bay all are factors in creating a long growing season perfect for Chardonnay and pinot noir grapes to ripen slowly and evenly. Winemakers Jim and Judy Schultze believe in their fruit so much that they only make wine from grapes grown on 15 acres in Corralitos and Aptos. ''The climate, elevation, mountain soils, and large temperature difference between night and day are unique to this area,'' Jim Schultze says. He sat down in the new tasting room recently to talk about how the Santa Cruz Mountains have a suitable terroir, or soil and climate, for pinot noir. ''Pinot noir is all about elegance and delicate nuance of flavor,'' he said. The long growing season at the estate produces wines ''that develop nice complexity without high sugars. These wines are not high alcohol.'' In the tradition of Burgundy, where the Schultzes refined their love of the Burgundy grape pinot noir, wines enhance a meal and complement food. ''When paired right, you get flavors from both that you can't get on its own,'' says Schultze. The Schultzes strive to create the earthy, elegant, complex flavors of the Burgundy-style pinot noir in the ocean-influenced climate of South County with a hands-on, labor-intensive approach in the vineyard and hands-off, minimalist approach to the winemaking. When the vineyard was started in 1996, Schultze would sell his grapes to David Bruce Winery, among others. The vineyard is sustainably farmed, using cover crops and no herbicides. But with the time and money spent tending vines, and the quality of wine that the Schultzes could make on their own, it made sense to focus on winemaking instead of selling grapes. Their approach is ''extreme minimal intervention'' to preserve grape flavors in an all-gravity system from crush to bottling. To keep oxygen out, and flavors in, no pumping, additives, filtering, or fining are used. Jim Schultze takes his time all the way through the process. Breaking down the lots into 45 to 50 separate fermentations, techniques include using wood tanks, wild yeast, or whole clusters -- stems, seeds, and all. ''The native yeast provides an earthy, forest floor taste and is Judy''s favorite,'' Schultze says. It makes the case for the expression of terroir. The wine made from whole clusters can only happen when everything is ripe, all the way to the stem. Long fermentation, 32-45 days, and long barrel time, 51-53 days, reflect the climate and vineyard techniques and create a structured wine. ''All of these things show the characteristics of the wine,'' he says. ''Winemaking is all about details. A combination of art and science, but science has just scratched the surface of what makes flavors in wine.''


The Pinot File | Rusty Gaffney, VOLUME 8, ISSUE 37

NOV 09, 2009 - Jim and Judy Schultze left the high-tech corporate world and used their over twenty years of interest and experience in artisan winemaking and winegrowing to create Windy Oaks Estate in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains enclave of Corralitos. Jim developed his winemaking skills in Australia and Burgundy. The Burgundian varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, are produced from a 15-acre estate vineyard located at 1,000 foot elevation on a ridge overlooking Monterey Bay. Viticulture and winemaking at the on-property winery is very Burgundy-themed. The vineyard is farmed according to strict sustainable, organic principles with all the vines hand tended and directly monitored for water status. The site is extraordinary in that it is free of heat spikes, experiences significant diurnal variation in temperature, and has one of the longest growing seasons in California. Jim also farms two other nearby estate vineyards for a total of 26 acres of Pinot Noir. Nine small lots of Pinot Noir are currently released including (from lowest level to top level) Terra Narro, Estate Cuvée, Diane’s Block, Henry’s Block, Wood Tank, Whole Cluster, Wild Yeast, Proprietor’s Reserve and Special Burgundy Clone for an annual total of 2,000 cases. Some wines are only sold to Wine Group members. Jim is very innovative and always tinkering to improve the quality of his wines (note the 5-year air-dried French oak barrel with the gold stays in the photo below). The Schultzes have opened a new tasting room on the property and welcome visitors. The wines are quickly sold to an eager mailing list at Some wine is available on the website. Wine group members receive a significant discount.


Metro Santa Cruz | Christina Waters

MAR 04, 2009 - The doyenne of food and wine writing here on the central coast, Christina Waters, profiled several women in wine, and Judy was included! She recognizes that Jim, as the winemaker, should get most of the attention, but it was nice to be given such a fine write-up. ''The swift ascendance of Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards has everything to do with Judy Schultze''s savvy micromanagement. ''It's a very personal style of business. I pay special attention to our wine club members.''


Metro Silicon Valley & Metro Santa Cruz | Stett Holbrook

FEB 06, 2008 - Indeed! Journalist Stett Holbrook ventured into our mountains to profile three iconoclastic pinot producers. Jim and his beret were featured prominently: “One of several wines I tried...a beautiful, feminine, well-structured wine that leads with fine flavors and aromas of rocky earth and spice backed by delicate notes of strawberry and plum with a soft, almost creamy finish that goes on for’s clear that he’s onto something here at the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains.”


Good Times | Christina Waters

OCT 11, 2007 - Christina Waters, a one-woman local wine and food writer-institution visited Windy Oaks and said that Jim “makes what many are claiming is the finest Pinot Noir this side of Burgundy.”


Pinot File | Rusty Gaffney

SEP 10, 2007 - The writing in the PinotFile is often directed at pinotphiles who have assumed expertise about wine in general, and Pinot Noir in particular. Occasionally I receive e-mails from the uninitiated who are new to wine and are just now getting hooked on Pinot Noir. A reader recently wrote that “I am relatively new to wine collecting and I’m learning more each day. I have taken a keen interest in Pinot Noir wine so your newsletter has been of great interest and very useful.” The same reader went on to suggest that I write about “reference Pinots” that would form the basis of educating a newbie palate. He asked that I identify Pinot Noir wines that best reflect various wine-growing regions of California and Oregon. Finally, he requested that I list the “top 10 must-try” Pinots that should be experienced by those who are just starting out. I thought this was an excellent idea and decided to take on the challenge. So here is a Starter Kit for Pinot Newbies.


Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine | Charlie Schroeder

APR 01, 2007 - Windy Oaks owners Judy and Jim Schultze are so proud of their Burgundian-style Pinot Noir that they planted 14 acres of their Santa Cruz Mountains property with the vines. Fewer than half of the Santa Cruz vineyards and winer- ies have tasting rooms, and most of those that do limit their operating hours to weekends. Four times a year—in January, april, July and november—the Santa Cruz Mountains Wine- growers assn. sponsors “Passport Days” in which about 50 wineries open for visitors. But most places welcome anyone who consults the association brochure and calls ahead to make an appointment. After rod and I introduced ourselves to Jim Schultze, winemaker and co-owner, along with wife Judy, of Windy Oaks, he poured us a glass of his 2004 Estate “One-acre” Chardonnay, so named for the small plot on which the grape is planted. I felt a little guilty downing such a precious commodity, but Judy mistook the source of my discomfort. “I don’t like spitting either,” she said. An additional 14 acres are devoted to Pinot, and in the Windy Oaks’ bro- chure, the couple, both in their 50s and until 10 years ago globe-trotting high- tech consultants, tout their Burgundian-style Pinot noir, with its “elegant fruit kick, a long and satisfying finish, and some mineral nuances that reflect the unique terroir of the vineyard.” at small vineyards, duties are divided among family or friends. One person takes the role of winemaker, while the other, in this case Judy, handles marketing, a position that demands lots of grass-roots hustling.


San Jose Mercury News | Laurie Daniel

APR 27, 2005 - It's `{`Windy Oaks Estate 2001 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir`}` a very pretty wine, with bright raspberry notes of vanilla and spice and supple texture. The winery also has a less-expensive 2002 Estate Pinot Noir Blend that's lighter but a good value.