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Crocker & Starr: It’s Always Sunny in St. Helena

Crocker & Starr: It’s Always Sunny in St. Helena

Crocker & Starr offers that St. Helena “sunshine” quality experience by putting their customers at the center of it while continuing to craft wines that are powerful yet balanced wines. 

Charlie Crocker and Pam Starr; Photo Credit: Crocker & Starr

St. Helena, in the heart of the Napa Valley, remains one of the warmest spots to grow grapes. Albeit not always sunny, the late afternoon wind from the Pacific Ocean tends to not make the turn from the coast resulting in summer temperatures than can be 10-20 degrees warmer in the Napa Valley. St. Helena would ultimately serve as the backdrop for Crocker & Starr Wines.

In 1997,  Charlie Crocker under the impression Pam Starr (who at the time was making wine at Spottswoode Vineyard & Winery) wanted to buy grapes from his vineyard, invited her to his office to discuss the purchase. What was thought to be a quick conversation, turned into a several hour long discussion that would pave the way to the creation and partnership of Crocker & Starr Wines. The relationship, like the business, has grown over time and is based on a foundation of mutual admiration and respect.

The St. Helena estate vineyard is a critical factor in their ability to craft beautiful and powerful wines that truly capture the essence of the region as it is one of the oldest continuously farmed sites in the Napa Valley dating back to the 1870’s. Crocker & Starr strives to set the bar for the St. Helena AVA Cabernet Sauvignons just as a first growth Bordeaux Chateau would do in France.

Cabernet Franc remains the wine that Crocker & Starr is historically known for.  When Pam and Charlie first started the business, they would release a wine that was 100% Cabernet Franc that would serve as a benchmark for how it is made in California today, which exuded many juxtapositions- flower and gravel or blueberry and chipotle.  At the end of the day, it comes down to a vibrant stylistic balance that appeals to all the senses. In February, the 2017 Cabernet Franc will be released to the wine club. This has also been a key aspect of the winery’s overall marketing strategy.

“Originally, the vineyard and wines were the marketing strategy because it was pure and honest,” said Starr, “Our message came from the uniqueness of launching our company with Cabernet Franc and following with one distinctive great wine after another. Today our production is still limited and the same strategy applies. Pure, honest and distinctive wines, which retain their sense of place, variety and style.”

Evyn Cameron, Winemaker; Photo Credit: Crocker & Starr

The team dynamic also remains a major reason for Crocker & Starr’s success. Evyn Cameron, who oversees winemaking, creates wines that are classic and balanced, steering away from heavier Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons to infuse her own sense of style.  Meanwhile, Pam will be out on the road focusing on marketing the brand and telling the Crocker & Starr story to wine lovers all over the nation. Charlie views himself as a self-proclaimed cheerleader while maintaining a presence in overall winery management while helping to champion that old world charm.

The term “Casali”, the Italian word for farmhouse, truly embodies the culture of the winery representing a house of celebration- a coming together of different people united in the common goal of making great wines while collaboratively working with one and other to execute. Guests love the private and personalized approach the winery takes. Repeat guests often refer to returning to the winery as “coming home.”

Crocker & Starr offers that St. Helena “sunshine” quality experience by putting their customers at the center of it while continuing to craft wines that are powerful yet balanced wines. “The creativity of making great wines keeps me focused on looking forward,” noted Starr.

Wine Recommendations

2018 White Blend of Sauvignon Blanc

A citrus bouquet gently nudges you in to this wine as you are hit with fresh flavors have you dreaming of a Tahitian getaway. 

This wine is 94% Sauvignon Blanc with a small amount of Semillon at 6% gives this wine a tactile yet lush mouthfeel with savory acidity that keeps the flavors going for a long finish. Oysters would go great with this wine. 


2016 Red Blend of Cabernet Franc

A ruby red gorgeous Bordeaux blend that immediately gives you raspberry on the nose. This medium bodied gem with silky tannins is vibrant.

This balanced wine is 60% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot and 6% Malbec is reminiscent of a Right Bank Bordeaux blend. This wine has me dreaming of a  nicely cooked Porterhouse to bring it all together.



2015 RLC Cabernet Sauvignon

A sleek and dark cherry colored wine with a touch of vanilla on the nose. This wine named for the the variations of rock, loam and clay soils found throughout St. Helena gives you flavors of grandma’s down home cherry pie. A true comfort as the cold nights come rolling in. 

This wine truly captures the sunny essence that St. Helena has to offer.  I would nuzzle up to a fire and pair this wine with a short rib stew. 


2016 Malbec ‘Casali 9’ Blend

A dark inky purple wine with black cherry and vanilla spice coming through. 

80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon this outdoor Spring grilling wine is ready for immediate consumption or could easily be held back for ten years.  Soak this wine up with a couple of cheeseburgers.