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Our Winemaker

Chris Dearden

Chris is a third generation Californian with agrarian roots in the San Joaquin Valley. He began his studies at UC Davis in Enology and later wrote his own major in Winery Operations and Management. Internships in the Napa Valley at Schramsberg and RMS Distillery led him to his first winemaking job out of school at William Hill Winery. He became the winemaker at a small Carneros winery-Mont St. John, which specialized in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and then became a winemaker for Heublein's Fine Wine Group, which included Christian Brothers, Beaulieu and Inglenook. While honing his skills as a winemaker, he made the decision to learn more about business and returned to the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley to obtain an MBA. During this period, he worked for Seguin Moreau, the world famous cooperage owned by Remy-Cointreau. His winemaking skills were enhanced greatly by working with the greatest wineries and winemakers in the world, helping them produce world class wines with premium barrels. In 1996 Chris became General Manager and Winemaker at Benessere Winery where for fourteen years he oversaw planting the vineyards, refurbishing the winery and establishing the brand at Benessere. His hard work has paid off with many awards and wide acclaim for high quality Sangiovese and other Italian variatels. Now Chris is an independent winemaker and consultant.  His partnership with George Grodahl to produce Chanticleer Cabernet Sauvignon, a premium Super Tuscan style wine, is a complementary step in his highly successful professional career. Click play below to see an interview of Chris by renowned wine expert and Master Sommelier, Catherine Fallis.

Chanticleer  Winemaking Process

The fruit is gently destemmed and partially crushed just minutes after harvest and fermented in small, open-topped tanks. A gentle pumpover, juice over skins, three times per day, for thirty six days allows full extraction of color and flavor to be released from the skins. After fermentation, the wine is lightly pressed and placed into 75% new and 25% used, small French oak barrels, where it is allowed to age and mellow for 24 months. It is hand bottled without fining or filtration.

Morningside Vineyard Management

Morningside Vineyard is carefully managed to produce high quality grapes required to produce a premium wine. The low, 2-3 tons per acre yield is achieved by careful pruning coupled with the natural tendancy of a rocky hillside vineyard to produce low yields. The vineyard is carefully monitored to insure that each hand-harvested cluster is at optimum maturity. Morningside Vineyard fruit has a characteristic cherry-plum aroma, typical of the great Cabernet growing region of Napa Valley.