2018’s Wine Influencer: Michael Cruse

Story by Riley McDermid; photo by Derek Yarra


Michael Cruse, the enfant terrible of West Coast viticulture after winning Winemaker of the Year in 2016, has now turned his sights to champagne and lesser known grapes as he rounds the corner into a respectably long career.

Long a fixture of the somms and lovers of somms among us, Cruse shot to viral fame with his Champagne-method produced Ultramarine, a wine that became so popular it had its own social media platforms and rabid following. Now, he is focused on operating Cruse Wine Co., his small winery and custom crush facility in Petaluma, turning his talents to variations of Valdiguié, Tannat and Syrah. The San Francisco-born Cruse studied biochemistry before falling passionately in love with winemaking — much to our pleasure.

“I basically always have one goal, that I never achieve completely: Make wine that is accessible, speaks of place, and excites. Selling it is important as well of course. Trying to manage some type of work/life balance would be a good goal as well,” Cruse says.

Cruse says San Francisco remains singular in both its consumption and appreciation of wine, one of the reasons he loves the city and is proud to be a multi-generational Californian.

“It’s the old story, apocryphal or not, that this is the highest per capita consumers of booze and books. The Wild West spirit plus the sea and all the cultural weight that comes with it. Where the land ends,” he muses. “From a physical perspective, going for a Bay swim or driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, or even the Bay Bridge, or dare I say Richmond-San Rafael on a full moon and seeing all the beauty of our region. It really doesn’t have any parallels.”

Meet our next Influencer by clicking here.

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