Vinum Cellars Chard-No-Way (dry Chenin Blanc) 2000
Working with our designer (Anya, of Full Tank Design) on the label for this wine was almost as fun as making the wine. After seeing this label, our parents lovingly refer to us as Ben and Jerry. Come to think of it, we didnt ask Ken Wilson (our grower) what he would think about putting his name on a pint of Ben and Jerrys, but after tasting the wine, he didnt seem to mind. Undoubtedly, Ken grows the best Chenin Blanc in California at his vineyard in Clarksburg. For those who arent familiar with Clarksburg, it is located west of Sacramento. It has a unique microclimate where the cool breezes from the Sierras and the Bay moderate the long hot days which allow the grapes to reach optimal maturity. In addition to those ideal growing conditions, the grapes come from low yielding old vines which provide the intensity that makes our Chenin Blanc unique.
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Vinum Cellars is a collaboration of winemakers Richard Bruno and Chris Condos, who first became friends while they were students at UC Davis. They share a long standing passion for Chenin Blanc and fondness for the more obscure grape varieties. After graduation, Chris went to work for Pine Ridge as Enologist, and Richard went to Bonny Doon as their distiller. Shortly after, their friendship was solidified over Chenin Blanc with the creation of their first wine "Pointe Blanc". Currently the Vinum Cellars team is working with over 10 grape varieties from Placer County Cabernet Franc to San Benito County Viognier. In addition to the Vinum Cellars partnership, they are employed as winemakers: Chris with Kathryn Kennedy Winery and Richard as a Napa winemaking consultant.
"We are a small, California winery committed to crafting quality wines from single vineyards in California’s premium coastal and cool climate growing areas. “It is our basic winemaking philosophy to work with great grape growers to develop the best fruit in the vineyard. We pick the grapes at optimal ripeness and gently process the fruit. In the winery, we are experimental with yeast strains and use different cultures for each variety. Our belief in the use of older French Oak barrels allows the varietal fruit of our wines to be expressed. We are committed to experimenting and learning new winemaking methods while preserving an old world approach.” - Richard Bruno & Chris Condos
Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of red wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. California wineries range from tiny, family-owned boutiques to massive corporations, and price and production are equally varied. Plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Valley area, while Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) and sub-AVA of has its own distinct personality, allowing California to produce red wine of every fashion: from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate vineyard acreage. Sonoma County is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosé and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône Blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with cool climate varieties such as Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California wine has to offer, any wine lover will find something to get excited about here.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.