After deciding that the life of an English professor wasn’t for him, Drew Huffine found his way into the winemaking world. He worked at Copain in the mid-’00s, where Wells Guthrie was one of the first California winemakers to pursue dialing back ripeness by picking earlier for lower sugar and higher acidity and making lighter, better-balanced wines. Drew then worked at Kosta-Browne, where he learned to avoid the pitfalls in the winemaking process.
Trail Marker was born in 2012, when Drew and wife Emily Virgil vinified a ton of high-elevation, cool-site Chardonnay from the Mendocino Ridge AVA. The following year, they met renowned viticulturalist Prudy Foxx, who, after interviewing them, connected them with several vineyards in the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. These vineyards were to become the foundation of Trail Marker Wine Co. In these cool, foggy, coastal sites, at 700 to 800 feet elevation but just miles from the cold waters of Monterey Bay, flavor development occurs at low sugar levels, which is ideal for crafting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. These wines are all about vibrancy, finesse, and length. Cellar work is basically hands-off—fermentations with indigenous yeast, minimal handling, and little or no new oak.