Food & Drink

October 7, 2012

Interview with Pam Starr, owner and winemaker at Crocker & Starr Winery

spotlight interviews, photo: google images

Today’s Vintner in the Spotlight is Pam Starr, co-owner and winemaker of Crocker & Starr Winery in St. Helena California. In 1997 Starr helped resurrect the vineyards on the Crocker Estate in St. Helena and established a winery to create world-class wines. Pam’s love affair with winemaking began as a harvest intern for Sonoma Cutrer in Sonoma after graduating from the University of California at Davis in 1984 with a degree in Fermentation Science. Seduced by the fast pace, the pleasures of working the land and the wine itself, Starr had found her calling. “I was simply smitten – the way one is when falling madly in love. Winemaking is mysterious, it’s sexy, and it’s magical.” Pam Starr is known for her distinctive Bordeaux-style blends that express a deep sense of place. Enthusiastic and innately inspired, Starr views her job as translating soil into wine; “great wine must taste of the sun, of the earth it comes from and of the place it grows”. I present this week’s Vintner in the Spotlight, Pam Starr.

Pam Starr, Crocker & Starr Winery, St. Helena California

South Florida Food and Wine: For those not familiar with Crocker & Starr wines, tell us a bit about your winery and how you got started.
Pam Starr:  In 1997, Charlie Crocker and I established Crocker & Starr Winery with a vision to create great wines which could stand among the world’s finest wines.  With Charlie’s 100-acre organically farmed estate vineyard on farmland that has grown grapes for over 140 years and my winemaking expertise, vision and business acumen, we proved to be a spectacular match.  Charlie and I co-own Crocker & Starr and I am the winery president and winemaker.

South Florida Food and Wine: If you had to classify your wine, what type is it? (value, moderate, cult) And why did you choose this classification?
Pam Starr: Crocker & Starr produces cult type wines with what I call “high ratio”. Wines that way over deliver for their price.

South Florida Food and Wine: Tell us about the different wines within the Crocker & Starr portfolio.
Pam Starr: We organically grow three estate wines, all distinctive and true to their “pin point” on the Saint Helena map. Our icon wine is the old vine Cabernet Sauvignon which is typically 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has become known as a collectors Cabernet as I capture this grape with power and balance. Next, our Cab Franc which is known to many Franc fans as dense and ripe as Franc gets with all the exotic flower and spice aromas. And finally, our Sauvignon Blanc which is the first C&S wine I designed and planted. The style of this Sauvignon Blanc is to capture the best attributes of this grape (Lime and guava flavors) in a pure, fresh and juicy style.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is your most memorable wine moment to date?
Pam Starr: My 50th birthday which I celebrated at a very well know steakhouse in Tampa. The second of the two nights was officially Bordeaux night where we started with a magnum of 1918 Gruaud Larose which was alive and beautiful throughout the night. Just the promise that wines last nearly 100 years inspires my work.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about being a winemaker/entrepreneur?
Pam Starr: Through the 29 years that I’ve been making wine, the best and biggest challenge I have is to make better and better wines every year. The entrepreneur challenge is to make it through the company’s growth phase where the multiple “hats” that I wear are tossed onto the lovely heads of people who work for us!

South Florida Food and Wine : Where can your wines be purchased?
Pam Starr: Crocker & Starr can be found in a limited number of restaurants and a few fine wine boutique shops. Most of our Crocker & Starr wines are sold to our Casali Club members and our mailing list at

South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would love to share a bottle of your wine with and why?
Pam Starr: Before Julia Child passed away, I was very fortunate to enjoy her company at various dinner parties and events but never had the opportunity to share my wines with her one on one. Julia’s passion for food and wine and her entrepreneurial spirit would make for a lively evening with me and my wines.

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final quaff and meal be?
Pam Starr: 2001 Crocker & Starr Cabernet Sauvignon “Stone Place”, a tin of epoisse cheese and a beautiful loaf of country bread.

South Florida Food and Wine: What was the last restaurant you ate at and did you order/bring your wine?
Pam Starr: La Toque in Napa and yes I brought a bottle with me as that is what we do when we entertain our guests. Of course, we order several bottles from the list as diversity is the spice of life!

South Florida Food and Wine: Other than your own wine, what is your quaff of choice?
Pam Starr: I’m definitely an “old world” wine fan and feel like I cut my teeth on Bordeaux and I right now I think I’d like to open a bottle of 1979 Troplong Mondot to inspire me for the harvest season.

Crocker & Starr Winery 700 Dowdell Lane Saint Helena CA 94574

Love the South Florida food scene? Check out our newly published book (Globe Pequot Press, $14.95), Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale

2012 Spotlight Interviews

Girl Power, Interviews with Female Chefs, Vintners and Entrepreneurs

2011 Spotlight Interviews

2010 Spotlight Interviews

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Sign up for our weekly email updates via the email signup logo at the bottom of this page.



Plate + Table Presents: Craft Cocktail Pairing Dinner with Honey Delray Beach

Thursday, October 29th Honey Delray Beach and Plate + Table will co-host a 5-course cocktail pairing dinner, featuring a menu from the pop-up team at Plate + Table paired with Honey’s Craft Cocktails. Dinner is $95/person. C...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor


New Belgium Brewing’s Clips Beer & Film Tour stops in Miami October 22, 2015

Clips is a national beer and film festival that invites guests to try New Belgium’s unique Lips of Faith series alongside popular classics, while catching short films by New Belgium friends and fans. Attendees get to enjoy a ...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor

South Florida Pumpkin Patches from Palm Beach to Key West

Pumpkin Patches in South Florida from Palm Beach to Key West 2015

It’s that time again to be on the lookout for pumpkins, and they’re on the way. Fall weekend mornings were made for pumpkin picking and hayrides so check out the South Florida pumpkin patches (or church parking lot, wh...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor


Stone Crab Claws, photo credit: Trulucks

Marathon’s Fifth Annual Stone Crab Eating Contest on October 17th

Seafood fans can celebrate the start of stone crab season in the Florida Keys with the fifth annual Stone Crab Eating Contest at noon on Saturday, October 17th. The annual event will take place at Keys Fisheries Market and Mari...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor


Gustavo Gonzalez MIRA Winery Winemaker Hosts Pairing Dinner at Farmer’s Table Boca Raton with DADA Delray Beach

On Tuesday, October 6th MIRA Winery will host the wine pairings for our Guest Chef Supper series with DADA Delray Beach. MIRA winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez will be at the wine dinner presenting his wines. The dinner will be inclus...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor

Bruce Feingold, Executive Chef and Co-Owner DADA

Guest Chef Supper with Bruce Feingold of DADA at Farmer’s Table Boca Raton

On Tuesday, October 6th the Turn the Table, Guest Chef Supper will be presented by Bruce Feingold, executive chef and co-owner of DADA. In true Feingold culinary stature, his menu will be “Snout to Tail” with procee...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor


Don Julio Rosita Blanc Cocktail

Don Julio Rosita Blanc Cocktail

Continuing with the preview of the menu and cocktail for our Guest Chef supper series at Farmer’s Table in Boca Raton; a unique dining experience that takes place on the first Tuesday of the month from July to November. The t...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor

Wine Bible_COV 20.indd

Wine Tasting and Book Signing with Karen MacNeil author of the Wine Bible in West Palm Beach and Coral Gables

The Wine Bible by  Karen MacNeil is an enlightening, comprehensive, and entertaining wine guide. Its second addition to be release in October 2015 is completely revised and updated with new chapters on every wine region in ...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor



Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>