Chardonnay Fans Should Know About Chamisal Vineyards

Located in San Luis Obispo, CA and recognized as the first winery to plant grapes within Edna Valley, Chamisal Vineyards is a Chardonnay lover’s winery. The historic property also produces Syrah, Grenache, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir that is known for its distinct nutmeg/orange zest/tangerine flavor termed ‘Chamisal Spice.' But it’s their multiple Chardonnays (eight different kinds) about which aficionados of the varietal rave. From rich and creamy, to clean and vibrant, there’s a Chamisal Chardonnay to please every palate.

Chamisal (named after chamise, a rose family flower that grows prolifically around the vineyard, and chamisal, referring to dense thickets of the flower that cover the hills of coastal California) has long produced bold, complex, and distinctive wines of character that well embody the region’s natural characteristics and are known for their intense flavor, mouthwatering texture, and impeccable balance. Edna Valley is situated only six miles east of the Pacific Ocean, making it California’s closest appellation to the coast. The region benefits from a cool micro-climate and unique mix of soils that combine to provide ideal conditions for the production of Chamisal’s world-class Chardonnays across a range of styles. 

Winemaker Fintan ‘Fin’ du Fresne, who is originally from Wellington, New Zealand, was brought on as head winemaker in 2006; his sustainable approach to winemaking is site-driven; each of his wines is crafted as an expression of the unique terroir of the vineyards from which it is sourced. When applied to Chardonnay, this approach produces a range of versatile and distinctive wines that range from full-bodied and supple with generous oak influence (i.e. the 2017 Monterey County Chardonnay) to crisp, elegant, and mineral-driven (i.e. the 2018 Stainless Chardonnay), each one a nod to the natural characteristics of its terroir.

Chamisal Vineyards has been SIP (Sustainability in Practice) certified in the vineyards since 2010 and was the second-ever winery to be SIP-certified in 2016, though the winery has always gone above and beyond the requirements to maintain the health of the vineyard and improve biodiversity in the area. Chamisal Vineyards exceeds certification requirements with organic practices like compost teas and cover crops to improve soil health and biodiversity. Sustainable practices at Chamisal Vineyards include the use of compost, cover crops, minimal organic fertilizers, a rooftop solar array and the introduction of drought-tolerant rootstock and moisture-sensors to mitigate irrigation needs, as well as a water-recapture system that reclaims 100 percent of winery process water for irrigation needs.

Currently closed during stay-at-home orders, Chamisal’s inviting tasting room is situated amidst the vines and features cozy patio seating where guests can order by the glass or by flight. Until the tasting room once again opens to visitors, bring the flavor of Edna Valley into your home by ordering online here.

Photos courtesy of Chamisal Vineyards

Fran Endicott Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is a luxury focused freelance feature writer for a variety of lifestyle publications and websites, editor-at-large for, and a California editor for luxury travel concierge service Essentialist. Prior to her journalism career she held positions in the fields of politics, television, and professional sports, and is proud to have established the Golden State Warriors...(Read More)

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