It’s often said that great wines are made in the vineyard, but for Charlie and Amy Chenoweth, that’s less a saying than an actual fact. For Charlie, the legendary grape grower, and Amy, the family winemaker, the fruit is everything.
There are two ways to understand the fanatical care that goes into the Chenoweth’s fruit. The easy way is to open a bottle bearing the Chenoweth label and simply taste it. Fresh fruit flavors balanced by pronounced acidity, exquisitely softened by sixteen months in French barrels, just one-third of which is new, so that the oaky notes are so subtle as to be all but imperceptible—”nothing to stand between the fruit and the palate,” says Amy.
The harder way is to climb into a 4X4 and trundle up the rugged dirt road through the redwood groves to their beautiful and meticulously farmed hilltop vineyards overlooking the lush Russian River Valley in western Sonoma County. For the farmer known by his many admirers as the “Redwood Rancher,” such attention to detail is not the least bit surprising; this is a man who literally counts the leaves on the canopy and has a proprietary recipe to custom-blend the seeds for the cover crop that grows between the rows of vines. Yes, the cover crop.