Crocker & Starr Wines in St. Helena, Napa Valley

By Published On: June 18th, 2024

Small-Production, Estate-Grown Wines With a Sense of Place.

Crocker & Starr was founded in 1997 by Charlie Crocker and Pam Starr on the historic Dowdell Estate in St. Helena, an agricultural property that traces its roots back to the Napa Valley’s earliest days of viticulture.

When she joined as co-founder and president, founding winemaker Starr was already well-regarded from her time at Spottswoode Vineyard & Winery and with Crocker & Starr she continued her dedication to organic farming, transitioning the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines already established at Crocker Estate and planting its first Sauvignon Blanc vines.

Today, Crocker & Starr remains a hands-on operation devoted to estate-grown small-production wines, offering tastings in a restored 1918 farmhouse, where it features both exceptional white and red wines.

Charlie Crocker and Pam Starr. Photo Courtesy: Crocker & Starr Wines.

Tasting the Crocker & Starr Wines

Crocker & Starr offers two primary experiences, both available by appointment only.

The Current Release Vineyard Experience ($75) is personalized and private invitation into the vineyard to see and touch the vines before enjoying a seated tasting of estate wines. 

Crocker & Starr Wines Tasting Experience with Cheese & Charcuterie. Photo Courtesy: Emma K. Morris.

The Estate Reds Experience ($120) focuses on three estate-grown wines, including two library selections, with a seated tasting preceded by a stroll in the vineyard.

Tasting Experience. Photo Courtesy: Emma K. Morris.

The Wines of Crocker & Starr

The 2018 St. Helena Crocker Estate Cabernet Sauvignon RLC is a library release and study in unique terroir, with “supple tannic structure, red cherry fruit and lasting finish.”

RLC Cabernet Sauvignon. Photo Courtesy: Crocker & Starr Wines.

Its 2019 AVA Napa Valley Cabernet Franc Blend represents the culmination of sustainable farming, resurrection of the 1870s-era winery and classic winemaking, “inspired by the great wines of the right bank of Bordeaux.”

Cabernet Franc Blend. Photo Courtesy: Crocker & Starr Wines.

Blending 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir, the 2018 Carneros Brut celebrates the winery’s history and vision for the future.

2018 Brut. Photo Courtesy: Crocker & Starr Wines.

A perennial favorite of white wine lovers, the 2022 AVA Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc Blend“serves as a great introduction to the portfolio.”

Crocker & Starr also operates the Casali Club, featuring limited-production estate wines like its Stone Place Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Cabernet Franc, Casali 13 Malbec and Estate Sauvignon Blanc. Membership includes three shipments per year.

Wine Portfolio. Photo Courtesy: Crocker & Starr Wines.

The History of Crocker & Starr 

The Crocker Estate and Crocker & Starr Winery sit on land originally established by James Dowdell in 1872, who planted it to Zinfandel, Riesling and hops and operated a winery and brandy house, releasing the first vintage of wine from Dowdell & Son Winery in 1891.

In the 1960s, the former Dowdell Estate was bought by Bruce Dohrmann to farm grapes, walnuts, oranges and hydroponic tomatoes.

San Franciscan Charlie Crocker of the famous Crocker Central Pacific Railroad family bought the 1870s stone Dowdell & Sons Winery and Vineyard in 1971, renaming it to Crocker Estate and planting Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Crocker and winemaker Pam Starr established Crocker & Starr in 1997, bringing the historic winemaking estate back to life as a team. Starr planted Sauvignon Blanc on the estate a year later. The first wine, a 1997 Cabernet Franc, was released in 1999, followed by a 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon in 2000. A 2001 Sauvignon Blanc was released in 2002.

Crocker & Starr received accolades almost immediately for its Sauvignon Blanc, with the 2004 vintage receiving the 12th spot in Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 List.”

A tasting room was opened in 2008 in a restored 1918 farmhouse near the estate. A new winery production facility was built between 2014-2016, followed the next year by the inaugural vintage of 1 Post Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2018 Crocker & Starr debuted a new appellation series called AVA Napa Valley.

Crocker & Starr highlights Starr’s mastery in winemaking through small-production estate-grown wines, with an enduring focus on Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc in addition to Cabernet Sauvignon. Visiting is a chance to step back in time to Napa Valley’s earliest days while enjoying wines made at the highest level.

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