Ten for ten plus: ten wines entered in the 2012 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition and ten medals received, along with four Best of Class awards and one Best of California award. Not a bad record for any winery and a spectacular record for a young winery that had its first bottling just last year.
Chacewater Wine Co. & Olive Mill, located in Kelseyville, a town tucked away in Lake County, California, is that winery, and they received the 2012 Golden State Winery award for their hard work.
“Mark Burch is our winemaker and deserves the credit,” said Paul Manuel, General Manager and owner. “He graduated from Fresno State and worked for Gallo, Sebastani, Kendall Jackson and Wildhurst before coming to work for us. He is a wonderful winemaker, highly experienced and, I believe, underappreciated in Lake County.”
“I was quite surprised and elated to get the results of this year’s judging,” said Burch. “It was a phenomenal opportunity for me to get to work at a new facility with some great people. Paul is a great guy to work for and together all of us are proving to be a good team.
“David Weiss owns a nearby vineyard and has been here for around 14 years. He knows where the best grapes are grown and helped us get our foot in the door. We rely on him, since in addition to the grapes we get from Paul’s vineyard in Nevada County, we purchase all our white, and some red grapes from Lake County vineyards.
“I like to make clean, solid wines with true varietal character, that are not overdone or over oaked. To do this I have to stay up on the wine, from fermentation to bottling. When people ask me about my wines I don’t give them the usual talk, I tell them that if it feels and tastes right to them, they will enjoy it. Later they can work on identifying all the aromas and tastes that many winemakers talk about.
“We are permitted for 15,000 cases, but right now we are producing about 6,000,” Burch added.
The story of Chacewater began many years ago when Manuel’s father moved their family from Sacramento to 80 acres outside Nevada City.
“In 1988 the ‘49er Fire’ burned all the trees and brush on the land,” remarked Manuel, “and were left with a mess. I had a construction company at the time and fortunately had the equipment to clear it.
“Several of our neighbors and friends had vineyards, so I studied what they did and, when my company wasn’t busy, I put my men to work preparing the land for a vineyard.
“My wife, Kellye, knows each of those vines intimately, since she was two weeks overdue when we planted the first 10 acres. She and the eldest of our three sons, Matt, who recently graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Agricultural Management, manage the vineyard, which is now 31 acres in size. Matt also helps me here at the winery.
“Our middle son, Luke, is a graduate student at the American University in Washington, D.C. He is our east coast sales representative for Maryland and the D. C. area. Our youngest son, Alex is a CPA for Ernst & Young in Phoenix, Arizona. They are all doing well and are very supportive.
“We simply sold our grapes for a while and after I retired from construction in 2004, we decided to take the grapes to Lake county for custom crush. Later we decided to go looking for a location for a winery and Lake County seemed to be the place to start.
“In 2001 St. Gregory of Sinai Monastery began building an olive mill there and planted about 10 acres of olive trees. The building and facility manager, and later the mill operator, was one of their Novices, Emilio De La Cruz.
“In 2008 they found it was interfering with their other work, so they decided to sell the land, orchard and mill. It was perfect for us, so we bought it and built a 10,000 square foot winery building next to the mill. Emilio stayed on to train our staff and a few years later he joined us full time so we can continue to produce the finest extra virgin olive oil in our mill.
“Our family is Cornish, with roots in the Cornwall area of Great Britain. We didn’t realized it at the time we moved to the Nevada City area, but my great grandfather, like many of the Cornish, had been a hard-rock miner there in the 1880s.
“On a visit to Cornwall we fell in love with Chacewater, a small village on the southern tip of England, that was the origin of the Manuel family tree. That seemed perfect for our winery name, and we included in our logo the unique Mark of a Chacewater church craftsman.
“Our vineyard, the olive mill and the winery facilities are all certified organic and audited once a year by the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). Since we get grapes from other sources than our own vineyards, our wines are not necessarily organic. However, the facilities are, which means they are very clean and well maintained.
“Our wine is not the only thing receiving great awards, our Robust Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil received Best of Class and Best of Show awards at the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition last March.”
The wines entered by Chacewater Wine Co. & Olive Mill in this year’s California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition were:
- 2010 Lake County Chardonnay (Double Gold, 98 points, Best of Class (Tie) North Coast Appellations and Best of California)
- 2009 Red Hills Petite Sirah (Gold, 95 points)
- 2008 Red Hills Petite Sirah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon blend (Gold, 94 points, Best of Class North Coast Appellations)
- 2010 Sierra Foothills Estate Merlot (Silver, 92 points)
- 2010 Sierra Foothills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Silver, 91 points)
- 2011 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc (Silver, 90 points)
- 2009 Red Hills Malbec (Silver, 90 points, Best of Class North Coast Appellations)
- 2011 Sierra Foothills Estate Generic Rose (Silver, 89 points, Best of Class Sierra Foothills Appellations)
- 2011 Sierra Foothills Estate Zinfandel (Bronze, 86 points)
- 2010 Sierra Foothills Estate Syrah (Bronze, 86 points)