When Gerret and Tatiana Copeland purchased the vineyard property that is now Bouchaine Vineyards with a group of investors in 1981, only a few winemaking pioneers recognized the potential for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Carneros. But the Copelands sensed they were onto something big, became sole proprietors in 1991, and completely rebuilt the winery from top to bottom. A few years later, they acquired adjacent acreage that included two steeply terraced hillsides. Little did the Copelands know that Michael Richmond who founded the nearby Acacia Winery in 1979, secretly envied the potential of their elevated hills, set amidst Carneros' rolling plains.
In 2002, Michael came to work as Bouchaine's general manager and winemaker and encouraged the Copelands to also hire his close colleague Greg Gauthier, who had an impressive background in wine marketing. Together, Michael and Greg help lead a vital team dedicated to growing exceptional grapes and making exemplary wines.
Bouchaine Vineyards has a total of 120 acres planted almost evenly to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with the exception of several acres planted to Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris. Devoted to sustainable practices as an entire way of life, Bouchaine focuses on deficit and minimal irrigation to achieve the intensity of flavors often associated with dry farming. Rather than the customary 100 gallons of water per plant per year, the winery uses around six to seven gallons. This approach conserves water and encourages the vines to develop deep, self-sustaining roots.
There is a lot to learn about sustainable farming and winemaking practices at Bouchaine. A fascinating small group tour--including a trip through the vineyard via truck, barrel sampling, and wine tasting on the winery's lovely redwood deck--is given each morning to those who make reservations in advance. The winery is bicycle friendly, picnic friendly, and just an all-around friendly place to linger and learn more about the renowned Carneros region and how Bouchaine Vineyards expresses it in the glass.
WHAT TO BUY
'09 Estate Chardonnay Bright yellow flower notes, Carneros lime, grapefruit, hint of vanilla cream, butterscotch $25
'08 Estate Pinot Noir Blueberry, black cherry, freshly turned earth, mocha, roasted coffee $45
'08 Carneros Pinot Noir Pomegranate, plum, cherry, nuances of coffee, toffee $30
Vineyard tours by appointment, certified sustainable farming, wine club discounts, picnic baskets by reservation