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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for August 16, 2000


Be sure to...Take A Chance


Clos LaChance Winery
1995—2,000 cases; makes 2 wines
1999—15,000 cases; makes 6 wines
(from J. Laube's California Wine)

Clos LaChance Due to the skyrocketing prices of Silicon Valley land and the rugged topography of the Santa Cruz Mountains, there are no large vineyards in our area. Our fenced-in vineyard ("clos" in French) is only about one acre....Co-founders Brenda and Bill Murphy

So how have the Murphys increased production this dramatically? Let's see.

The Rest of the Story

In 1996 the couple established the CK Vines company. Greg Mills (U.C.-Davis, etc.) provides the care and feeding of about twenty tiny vineyards in the area. He's working with 22 varietals (total of 60 clones) on 85 acres. One of them is a Merlot gem in a tiny viticultural area called San Ysidro, east of Gilroy. Critic Bob Thompson points out that "it sits in a low spot between two hills that channel cool sea air across its vineyards." and that's the source of our...

Wine of the Day

1997 Clos LaChance Merlot
Appellation—San Ysidro, Central Coast, California
Winemaker—Jeff Ritchey (U.C.-Davis, Gundlach-Bundschu) makes small lots with tender, loving care. This includes sorting the grapes by hand, punching down the floating grape skins by hand during fermentation, etc. Does it work?

Well, it sure does with Pinot Noir. Jeff's 1997 was selected Wine of the Year by the Golden Gate Wine Society. Previous winners included the revered Opus One...not bad company.
My Panel's Comments—"Good berry and chocolate flavors," "silky finish." HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Contacts—Cheryl Murphy, (408)741-1796, FAX (408)354-4617 or Mike Lynch, (707)939-9047, FAX (707)939-0507.


The winery name? The maiden name of Brenda Murphy's mother was LaChance.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


This page created August 2000