Vinum Cellars is a collaboration of winemakers Richard Bruno and Chris Condos, who first became friends while they were students at UC Davis. They share a long standing passion for Chenin Blanc and fondness for the more obscure grape varieties. After graduation, Chris went to work for Pine Ridge as Enologist, and Richard went to Bonny Doon as their distiller. Shortly after, their friendship was solidified over Chenin Blanc with the creation of their first wine "Pointe Blanc". Currently the Vinum Cellars team is working with over 10 grape varieties from Placer County Cabernet Franc to San Benito County Viognier. In addition to the Vinum Cellars partnership, they are employed as winemakers: Chris with Kathryn Kennedy Winery and Richard as a Napa winemaking consultant.
"We are a small, California winery committed to crafting quality wines from single vineyards in California’s premium coastal and cool climate growing areas. “It is our basic winemaking philosophy to work with great grape growers to develop the best fruit in the vineyard. We pick the grapes at optimal ripeness and gently process the fruit. In the winery, we are experimental with yeast strains and use different cultures for each variety. Our belief in the use of older French Oak barrels allows the varietal fruit of our wines to be expressed. We are committed to experimenting and learning new winemaking methods while preserving an old world approach.” - Richard Bruno & Chris Condos
The vineyards just inland from the Sacramento River Delta, along the deep banks of the Sacramento River, comprise the Clarksburg AVA. The River Delta channels in cold air and fog from the Pacific Ocean creating a cooling effect in this area. Warm summer days quickly change to chilly evenings and make a great environment for grape growing. While a range of grape varieties grow here, Chenin blanc stands out the most, distinguishing itself in the appellation.
The Clarksburg Wine Growers and Vintners Association, made up of nearly 50 grower members and over a dozen wineries, has been working since the late 1980s to promote the high quality wine of its region.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.