We sat around a long table sampling wine yesterday at Loxton Cellars. It’s harvest time here in Sonoma and we are surrounded by Chris Loxton, winemaker and owner, as well as his lovely knowledgeable staff. Loxton is a 4th generation grape grower who originally hails from Australia. His family vineyard is in the Riverland of South Australia, which was first planted in the 1890’s. Chris is a brilliant man – he has a PhD in physics, but ultimately returned to his greatest passion: wine making. His career brought him to California where he has made his home in order to create Loxton Cellars. Residing in the heart of Sonoma Valley, Loxton’s winery is 5 acres of Estate vineyard, which comprises about 40% of his production. The remaining fruit is sourced from other Sonoma Valley vineyards where Loxton is actively involved in farming, some of which are just a stone’s throw away. His handcrafted wines have an emphasis on simplicity, are made without fining agents (making them vegan friendly) and also made without yeast whenever possible.
The winery’s mission is to avoid problems rather than fix them – like the old adage, they believe in “doing it right the first time around.” Loxton Cellars is known for its extremely clean facility and exceptional hands-on approach to wine making. At harvest time, Chris himself is on a ladder hand-sorting the grapes, walking the vineyards and carefully looking at his vines, the soil, and the leaves. He described to me how he is able to know when certain rows need a little more water simply based on the angle of the leaves at a specific time of day, and when the frost alarms go off at 4:00 in the morning, he carefully decides if the vineyards need the misting system or not. Will the sun be up soon? Will the water evaporate in time to avoid creating too much moisture on the grapes? The decisions that go into each and every varietal and row of his vines are thoughtfully decided by him. He personally tends to each and every aspect of his estate grapes and the wine making process.