There’s something big coming to the City of Elk Grove. As early as February 2020, Elk Grove City residents, Christopher and Candice Mora, anticipate opening Christopher Cellars. Christopher Cellars is located at Elk Grove Boulevard and Bradshaw Road. Let’s welcome Elk Grove’s newest winery!
At the ripe age of eighteen, Christopher (hereinafter, “Chris”) Mora began working at Woodbridge Winery as a way of making ends meet as he made his way through college. Surprisingly, Chris was not a fan of wine at this time of his life. It wasn’t until he met Candice at Elk Grove’s infamous Boulevard Bistro that he was introduced to wine. There, Chris truly found his love for wine.
This wasn’t the only form of true love that Chris found at Boulevard Bistro. Chris also found love with Candice, whose father Brett Bohlmann is the founder of the restaurant and where Candice is now the General Manager. In fact, Chris and Candice would later marry at that very location. It was Candice that sparked in Chris a true love for wine and has come alongside him in this new winery venture.
With this newfound appreciation for wine, Chris took a job at Jeremy Wine Company out of Lodi. During his experience at Jeremy Win Company, Chris worked as a cellar master. He eventually worked his way up to the assistant winemaker! It was here that Chris learned everything from “blending wines to cleaning toilets”.
Although the journey to this point has been in talks for years, it wasn’t until January 2019 that serious conversations about a winery in Elk Grove began. It was at no other location than Boulevard Bistro that Chris and Candice met Hal D. Bartholomew, a lifelong Elk Grove resident and die-hard supporter of the restaurant.
If Hal’s name sounds familiar, it is because his family has owned the Elk Grove Boulevard/Bradshaw Road property. Moreover, his family since the 1940s and began the vineyards there in 2003. His father and grandfather were responsible for many of the levees and land leveling that the City has today and Hal Bartholomew Sports Park located at Whitelock Parkway and Franklin High Road is indeed named after Mr. Bartholomew.
Hal, along with his wife, Beverly Brautigam, began serious talks with Chris and Candice early this year. As a result, the joint venture of Christopher Cellars was born.
Chris showed the Elk Grove Tribune around the wine production building that he and his father retrofitted this year to prepare for this venture. It is here in this building that Chris works several hours a day blending four signature wines: a red blend, Petit Verdot, Rose, and Zinfandel. The Petit Verdot is made with grapes grown directly at the Elk Grove location with the other grapes sourced from Lodi. The aging process for some wines, such as Chardonnay, can be as minimal as nine months other wines can take up to twenty-two months to properly age.
The conditional use permit that the Moras have with the City of Elk Grove does not include a licensing for a tasting room. Nonetheless, Chris does intend to look for a location, preferably in Elk Grove, for a tasting room someday in the near future.
As for the winery location at Elk Grove Boulevard and Bradshaw Road, Chris intends to open it up in February 2020 and to hold a handful of events at the location next year. According to Chris, all that they are waiting on for the grand opening is, quite simply, “getting the wines ready”.
Chris took the Elk Grove Tribune out to the vineyards and this was where we really got a sense of his heart and mission for Christopher Cellars. Chris is clearly very knowledgeable and very experienced when it comes to wine all the way down to knowing by simple sight and taste. He truly understands when the grapes have met their peak balance of acidity and sweetness.
Despite his extensive knowledge, Chris believes it all comes down to intuition. Regardless of what science and levels pulled from laboratory results may say, Chris’ business plan is fairly simple: He knows what good, organic wine tastes like and it is his mission to produce just that. According to Chris, the most important thing is to get it right in the vineyard because it is his belief that all great wines start there.
At the Elk Grove Tribune, we are excited to see this business grow. Certainly, we will be keeping up with Christopher Cellars as we anxiously anticipate their opening date. In order to stay in the loop, visit www.christophercellars.com and get on the winery’s mailing list.