Chad studied winemaking at California State University Fresno graduating in 2006. He is the first generation in his family to work in the wine industry.
In 2007, he moved to Oregon to live in what he thinks is the most beautiful place to make wine in the United States. In 2011, Chad started his first winery called Minimus and ventured out on his own to consult for dynamic producers in the area looking to branch out from the normal farming and wine-production practices in his region. In 2014, he met his current business partners and started Craft Wine Co. in Carlton which is the home for the brands Minimus, Omero, and Origin.
Chad lives in McMinnville, OR which is in the northern territory of the Willamette Valley AVA. The Willamette Valley and its sub-AVA’s are fascinating in that they are very young in their development so they have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible.
The modern wine industry began in 1965, though there was a thriving wine industry here before then which was crushed by prohibition. Since 1965 the major focus has been directed towards Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, the two flagship varietals, which showed great promise in the early days. Many of the vineyards planted prior to 1985 had a mix of grape varietals including Semillon, Merlot, Riesling, Various Muscat, and even crossings and hybrid varietals. It was only recently that the industry reached a saturation point for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris which has opened the door to a new industry that is excited about entering a new era of experimentation. The Willamette Valley is an exciting place to live and to work for this reason, the current generations are to be a part of the discovery of the area and to carry the industry forward opposed to maintaining an old tradition. Their industry can still be anything. It is the people and the local culture Chad loves the most.
Craft Wine Co. is not an estate grown winery. They purchase all of their fruit from local farms where they work closely to produce the best fruit they possibly can. Working with many farms and farmers allow for tremendous potential through variation in physical and cultural terroir to influence the final wines that Chad produces.
Because they are so broad in the number of varietals they work with, currently over 30 different, they need to work with many farms in order to try and find the optimal terroir for each variety. Most of their vineyards are farmed organic or biodynamic which is their preference. A couple of their vineyards are farmed on what is called LIVE Certified Sustainable which is an Oregon based industry developed certification for low input farming methods.
In the cellar everything is vinified naturally without additives other than sulfur which they adhere to Biodynamic standards for. The one exception is with Pinot Noir which often needs a tartaric acid addition to manage the pH at a sound biological value which helps them to radically reduce the need for sulfur. This necessity is consistent across warm or cold vintages because Pinot Noir is mismatched to the majority of vineyard sites in the area causing an imbalance in pH driving it upward, which is just the truth about the natural suitability of the grape to be planted across an area as broad as 3.3 million acres.
They are unique in that they operate more similarly to brewery culture than winery culture.
Most of their production is dedicated to experiments, perpetually releasing round after round of one-off wines as they dive deep into our ingredients turning them inside out collecting information to learn and make different decisions the next year to create dynamic and compelling wines. It is a reflection of the current state of their industry, a new era of discovery and establishment of the region.