Sept 6, 2016 – A hopeful new chapter in the long and twisted narrative that is the Chalone AVA began back in April when Michael Michaud returned to the winery as consulting winemaker, 20 years after he departed the place.
At the time, Michaud told us, “I had always said to the members of my original staff and to my family that if someone would rescue Chalone from the corporate scenario, I would be happy to come back and help. The biggest challenge now is trying to build awareness of the Chalone AVA. In the last decade, there has not been much education in the marketplace about it.”
He noted that plans were in the works to get the Chalone tasting room reopened, which looks on track for sometime later this month.
Meanwhile, Michaud himself has been working diligently on his own property, readying it for the Visitor’s Center he plans to launch with a Harvest Party on September 17.
Michaud, who has been farming here since the 1980s, intends to create a place where wine lovers once again have access to the acclaimed Chalone AVA, home to some of the world’s most distinctive wines. He believes that there is nothing like seeing where a wine comes from to help you understand its intrinsic nature, for every setting informs and builds the flavors of a wine, literally, from the ground up.
His 28.5-acre vineyard property is quite near the Chalone Winery, with a view of the Pinnacles. Says Michaud, “We have been busy replanting 7 acres of vines in 2015, and adding 2 more acres of Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.” He feels Cab Franc might really be special here. Time will tell.
The Michaud Vineyard Visitor’s Center will welcome its first visitors on September 17, when Club members and others will be invited to the Harvest Party, which takes place from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm. Wear your vineyard shoes so you can take a tour through this special vineyard and perhaps even help with harvest.
This will be followed by a BBQ lunch and wine tasting with the wine maker. Guests will take home a special three-pack assortment of Chardonnay, Marsanne and Pinot Noir, three varietals that Michaud personally feels truly express the granitic soils in their chalky-fine minerality and their matchless mouthfeel.
The Michaud Vineyard and Visitor’s Center is located 3 miles NW of Stonewall Canyon Rd and Highway 146, quite close to the Pinnacles National Park. Maps will be provided upon your RSVP.
Cost is $90 each for M4 wine club members, and $110 each for general public. Space is limited. Reservations and payment are due by Sept. 10. Contact Belinda@michaudvineyard.com
Going forward, the plan for the Michaud Visitor’s Center is to be open by appointment only as of October 1 and to open to the public on November 1.
Michaud is also working on organizing the winegrowers in the region, including the Brosseau family, the Antles, Richard Boer, Oliveria and Naylor Family (Dry Hole Vineyard) and to form a coalition to promote the AVA as a whole. He’s setting up a non-profit organization to do so, with assistance of Eric Stine of Foley.
“I’d like to get back to doing the Pinnacles Wine Festival,” says Michaud. “Everyone will be thrilled to see it revived.”
But that’s a project for next year. First, there’s harvest 2016.
Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Edible Monterey Bay, Spirited, WineOh.Tv, Los Gatos Magazine and Wine Industry Network, and a variety of consumer publications. Her passion is telling stories about the intriguing characters who inhabit the fascinating world of wine and food.