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The Winemaking Prodigy: Gavin Chanin

Gavin Chanin is a man to follow. Named one of Forbes' "30 under 30" in 2011, a "winemaker to watch" by San Franciso Chronicle in 2012, one of Food & Wine's "winemakers of the year" in 2012, and was featured in Wine Enthusiast magazine's "40 under 40" tastemakers in the wine industry for 2013. A recent article in Wine & Spirits prominently featured Chanin as a leader in "the shape of Chardonnays to come".

Gavin Chanin at his winery (Photo: Chanin Wines)

At just 27 years old, Gavin Chanin brings a depth of experience to his winemaking that even veterans would envy. Born and raised in Southern California, he attended UCLA to study fine arts. At the time when most of his college peers were learning to drink, he painted his canvas in a different hue. He not only chose wine as his preferred beverage, but he also learned to make it. 

Gavin's winemaking career began at 18, with harvest internships at the Au Bon Climat and Qupe wineries in Santa Barbara. At both labels he quickly earned the role of Assistant Winemaker under the expert tutelage of Jim Clenenden (at Au Bon Climat) and Bob Lindquest (at Qupe) and it is in Santa Barbara that he began crafting his own wines from Burgundian varietals. At the age of 21, Gavin left UCLA, turned down the chance to be an intern at Domaine Dujac and established his own Chanin Wines. Chanin Wines then proceeded to establish a strong reputation for making some of the most beautiful, exciting and distinctive wines to come out of California in some time. 

Bottles of Chanin Wines with Gavin's paintings on their labels (Photo: Chanin Wines)

Whilst the norm in the Santa Rita Hills was to make 14.5% plus wines, Gavin continued to pick before others to limit the alcohol and preserve a wine's expression of terroir. "I just pick less ripe. But I don’t think that I pick early. I just pick on time", says Gavin, "and to produce wines of balance, and wines that represent their various sites." Some of the vineyards that he works with are large but Gavin’s knowledge and contacts allow him to source his grapes from the most mineral and most exciting sections. "Gavin Chanin produced one of the most impressive collections of wines I tasted during my tour of the Central Coast," states Antonio Galloni in Wine Advocate Aug 2012.

Gavin's philosophy is to create exciting wines, made in a pure and balanced style that reflect the individual vineyard in which they are grown, choosing grapes from old vines and picking them early. This he does beautifully, making wines of incredible finesse balanced with wonderfully rich flavours. Shop Chanin Wines here.

A bottle of Lutum Pinot Noir (Photo: Lutum Wines)

Chanin met Bill Price at a wine tasting in 2011, a gathering that soon led to many geek level conversations about vineyards. They collaborated together on an experimental lot of Pinot Noir from Durell Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast, which evolved into their new joint-venture, Lutum. Shop Lutum Wines here.

Article credits: Chanin Wines, Stannary Wine, The Vinorium and Lutum Wines.

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