Written by The Business Journal Staff
Ken Post, Winemaker/general manager
CRU wine co.
What we do: We create a portfolio of handcrafted artisan-style wines that embrace the incredible diversity of California’s premium growing regions. Cru is a French term that identifies and classifies prestigious vineyards and the wines made from them, embodying the notion that each vineyard site supports a unique and indigenous style.
Education: B.S., wine production
Family: Married 31 years to Julie Post. Three kids: Brianna (29) and husband Jerremy with my first grandchild Aivah, 3-weeks-old; Dylan (24) and Cameron 19.
How did you first get involved in wine making?
This is a second and third career. Still trying to figure out what I want to grow up and be in life. Sold our business in the fall of 1996. Semi-retired for 18 months before the wife told me to get a real Job. Went to Fresno State to try my hand in viticulture when I met Carlos Muller, who showed me the way to the enology program. Carlos Muller, Ken Fugelsang, and Kevin Conner had a tremendous influence on my early days at Fresno State. I entered the four-year program in 1999. At 42, my winemaking career began.
What types of wines do you make — and which varieties won awards at the recent San Francisco International Wine Competition?
Between the Mariposa and CRU Label we make 23 different wines. The 2014 CRU Pinot Noir Santa Maria took double gold — Best Pinot Noir and Best Red of show. The 2014 CRU Pinot Noir Vineyard Montage took a double gold medal.
What are the most important issues facing your industry today?
Selling the wine. Selling the wine for a profit is one of the most difficult problems in the wine industry. We can discuss all kinds of marketing trends, environmental issues and the big one — sustainability. While this is a buzzword for the farming and winemaking issues, I feel it overflows to the root. Sustainable means you’re in business in an ongoing matter.
Do you think the Central Valley’s reputation among wine makers — and drinkers — is on the rise and if so, why?
Central Valley winemakers do not get the press of the more famous wines from Napa or even Paso Robles. Most do not get reviews from the press and are behind the scene making wines for the masses. The major periodicals review the higher end wines. As for popularity, most wine comes from the Valley. Most of the time it’s a value wine or even a box wine. The small producers in the Valley are also gaining attention with Valley fruit and fruit brought into the area to be processed.
What is your favorite wine to make — and drink — and why, Ken?
My favorite wine to make is pinot noir. To me this is one of the most difficult wines to make and has thus gained my respect and attention. Because of this pinot noir has also become my favorite wine to drink. There are so many subtle differences in pinot that I find it to be like a movie that I enjoyed. Every time I try it, there are new aromas and flavors that were not identified the first go around. I enjoy pairing wine with food. The wine should make the food taste better and the food make the wine taste better. People should trust their palate. Not everyone tastes or smells the same. With food we all know what we like and dislike. I love sushi, my neighbor thinks it bait. Same thing with wine — if it tastes good to you then it’s a good wine. Do not rely on someone else to tell you it is good. Experiment with serving temperatures and food pairings. There may be that pairing that resembles brushing your teeth and then drinking orange juice, and will not be repeated for quite some time. Others may like it though. Serving temperatures dramatically affect the wine. The colder the wine, the less you taste. Is it wrong to put an ice cube into a glass of wine straight from the refrigerator? No, if it tastes good, then do it. You’re consuming wine, and besides — my mom does this and she does absolutely nothing wrong.
What was the best advice you ever received and who did it come from, Ken?
“One OH SHIT kills ten Atta boys.” My Grandfather from my mom’s side let me know this advice.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career? Larry Brooks has been the biggest influence on my winemaking career. On my career overall my dad would definitely be my biggest influence.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, Ken?
Moved to Fresno in 1981. My dad and I relocated our construction company as it was logistically located in the center of the state.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it, Ken?
Farming with my dad in Paso Robles. Mother Nature works 24/7 and you need to make hay when nature says. Good hard work ethic.
What do you like to do in your spare time? My family and animals give me great joy. Therefore most of my spare time is finding ways to enjoy them all. I love most all things outdoors. I’m a little bit of an adrenalin junkie and enjoy off road motorsports, two and four wheels. This has slowed as my doctor has reminded me that if I was going to play like an 18-year-old, I should get in shape like one. Therefore, more fishing and traveling is in order.