Founded in 1982, Au Bon Climat (which means “a well exposed vineyard”) produces internationally-recognized Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc wine from grapes grown in California’s Santa Barbara County. The Au Bon Climat winery is located on the world-famous Bien Nacido Vineyard and is owned by winemaker Jim Clendenen. Au Bon Climat was listed on Robert Parker’s Best Wineries of the World in both 1989 and 1990, while Jim Clendenen has been named Winemaker of the Year in 1992 by the Los Angeles Times and Winemaker of the Year in 2001 by Food and Wine magazine.
Au Bon Climat sources fruit from several of the most highly regarded vineyards in the Central Coast. These include Clendenen’s own Le Bon Climat Vineyard and estate plantings at the legendary Bien Nacido Vineyard – both in Santa Maria Valley, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills, Los Alamos Vineyard (Santa Barbara County), and San Luis Obispo County’s Talley Vineyard.
Bien Nacido Vineyard
The fabled Bien Nacido Vineyard is the primary vineyard source for Au Bon Climat wines. Located at the northern end of California’s Santa Barbara County, the Bien Nacido vineyard produces internationally renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines from more than 40 different producers.
Bien Nacido is made up of over 900 acres of vines, nestled in a canyon twenty miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Though the ocean can be viewed only from the hills surrounding the vineyards, the influence of the sea is felt in the cool temperatures of the Santa Maria AVA. Warm days and cool nights combine with soils composed of gravel and calciferous clay to produce wines with a unique and much sought-after character.
Le Bon Climat
In 1998 Jim Clendenen purchased 100 acres in Sisquoc along the south side of the Sisquoc River and directly across the Santa Maria Valley from Bien Nacido (and the same distance from the Pacific Ocean). It was comprehensively planted, with drainage installed in the soil, Riparia Gloire rootstock to reduce vigor, drip irrigation, and 1600 vines per acre of carefully selected plant material. The vineyard is situated primarily on hill tops (an additional 11 acres were planted in 2006 & 2007 along the valley floor), with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Viognier as the original plantings. Le Bon Climat is farmed organically and has been certified organic since 2003.
For more information on Au Bon Climat Winery, click here.