Friday May 25th, 6pm
Join Sommelier Alexis Iaconis and Chef Ryan Fancher for a memorable evening of food, wine and conversation with Flowers winemaker Chantal Forthun.
When Walt and Joan Flowers purchased 321 acres of ridge top land only 2 miles from the Pacific in 1991 and planted grapes, they were the definition of outliers. Their belief was that the dramatic variables in weather in this rugged coastline, if farmed the right way, could be harnessed to produce uniquely remarkable cool climate varietals. If the idea seemed crazy at the time, they soon put paid to naysayers.
Chantal arrived in 2012, two years into the Flowers' adoption of organic farming practices and native fermentation for 100% of their winemaking. Born and raised in the Central Valley, she had studied botany at Chico State and become an enologist before moving, fortuitously as it turned out, to Bonny Doon in 2008. A mentorship with Randall Grahm impressed upon her the importance of biodynamic farming, winemaking using native yeast, the practice of gravity flow. It was working as an associate winemaker with Randall that Chantal adopted his mantra, which she defines as "a dedication to transparency in an industry filled with smoke and mirrors." In 2011 she returned to the Santa Cruz mountains to make wine for acclaimed Pinot producer Rhys Vineyards, which brought two great loves into her life: the man who would become her husband, and small batch Pinot Noirs made in the Burgundian style.
Chantal produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the two organic, bio-dynamically farmed Flowers estates - Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard and Sea View Ridge Vineyard. Great care is given to every stage of winemaking, starting with hand harvesting grapes in the early morning. Pinot grapes have long cold soaks before wild yeast fermentation, the better to showcase the terroir; they are left in contact with the skins, which brings out resplendent color and flavor. Chardonnay grapes go directly to the press and are allowed to settle before going into French Oak barrels for 100% barrel fermentation. Every step Chantal takes strives to enhance the breezy, foggy and intermittently hot coastal climate.