Goosecross Cellars Winemaker Achieves Success

Two current releases illustrate transformation of “unpolished diamond” into boutique gem.

Several years ago I interviewed Bill Nancarrow, then early in his tenure as winemaker at Goosecross Cellars. Nancarrow had spent the previous decade-plus at Duckhorn Wine Company, the last few years as executive winemaker. Established in 1985, Goosecross was purchased in 2013 by a group headed by Christi-Coor-Ficelli, who hired Nancarrow in 2014. During our chat, the winemaker remarked that he’d sensed from the start that the boutique winery represented an “unpolished diamond.”

Praising the “purity and innocence” of previous wines from the 12-acre State Lane Vineyard – its oldest vines date to 1978 – Nancarrow added that he hoped to elevate the wines further via farming and winemaking adjustments. I thought of his goals for Goosecross while tasting two 2017s that illustrate his success in transforming the unpolished diamond into a gem.

Most of State Lane Vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon.

2017 Goosecross State Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Polished and pure indeed, this 100% Cabernet comes off as subtly complex, its enveloping mouthfeel abetted by tannins that seem to sneak up mid-palate. A balanced and elegant wine whose flavors include dark berries, licorice, and stewed plums, it likes to play off fat, pairing well with heavy cheese and lightly Cajun-spiced oxtail stew.

2017 Goosecross Branta

Robust and rustic, this juicy red maintains a sense of decorum despite its fruit-forward punch. So much goodness to unpack here, with concentrated red- to black-fruit flavors via Zinfandel (50%) and Petite Sirah (41%). Cabernet Sauvignon (9%) and aging for 25 months “separately in mostly used French barrels” supply refinement. Nancarrow nailed the Zinfandel–Petite Sirah proportions, the contribution of each grape registering individually and in concert with the Cab.

Views of Cabernet vines and Yountville Hill from tasting patio at Goosecross Cellars.

Pristine and Pastoral

In addition to the Cabernet and Branta, Nancarrow also makes Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, rosé (of Pinot Noir), Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel for Goosecross. You can test drive the winery’s diverse portfolio at its barnlike tasting room, which sits amid State Lane Vineyard 2 miles northeast of downtown Yountville. The feeling is pristine and pastoral, with views west from the outdoor patio of Cabernet vines and Yountville Hill.

The barnlike winery and hospitality buildings look made of wood but are actually concrete.

Why go: distinguished estate vineyard; diverse wine portfolio; pastoral setting.


Goosecross Cellars appears in 2 Splendid Days in Walkable Yountville.


1119 State Ln., Yountville 94599

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