Peter and Jode Chevalier
You’ll find Peter Chevalier all over Mendocino County. Together with his wife Jode, he runs Chevalier Vineyard Management, the go-to overseers for in-the-know vineyard owners. Like so many of Artezin’s growers, Peter has farming in his blood. Growing up he helped his father in the family pear orchard and eventually added vineyards to his area of expertise. Artezin winemaker Randle Johnson has tremendous respect for the Chevaliers and looks forward to their Zinfandel and Petite Sirah grapes each season.
Down a long dusty road, in the heart of Mendocino County, Darin Colombini and his father personally tend to acres of heirloom Zinfandel vines. Planted during World War II, the farm was purchased by Darin’s father one night over dinner from its previous owner, Charlie Barra, still a local grower. The Colombini family, whose ancestors immigrated to California from Italy to escape blight and poverty, has a long and fruitful relationship with Artezin’s winemaker Randle Johnson who buys grapes from the Colombinis for Artezin’s Mendocino Zinfandel.
A few miles away, at Rovera Ranch, Eddie Graziano oversees his Zinfandel vines from the inside of a building that looks more like a 1950s movie set than a vineyard. The Graziano family first planted vineyards in Mendocino County in 1918. During Prohibition, Eddie’s grandfather Vincenzo sold grapes to bootleggers on the East Coast. Today Eddie sells them to Randle Johnson for Artezin’s Mendocino Zinfandel. The older Grazianos must have instilled a love of family and history in Eddie who is as passionate about his vineyard as he is his grandchildren, one of whom is a fierce barrel jumper in the rodeo, and his prize l957 Chevy Bel Air two-door hardtop convertible. The car takes him back to his youth at Ukiah High School where he met his now wife Frankie.
Through a garden gate that once graced her grandmother’s home, on a road built by her grandfather and a team of horses, Joan Nelson oversees the business her 101-year old father once ran including acres of sustainably grown vineyards. Respectful of tradition, Nelson maintains the personal relationship that has come to define Artezin and its growers and is a steady source of Petite Sirah for Artezin.
A small team, Bree and Kevin Klotter own and manage four acres of Zinfandel vineyards themselves. Rarely seen without a belted toolkit, Bree walks the vineyards row by row, carefully maintaining the vines. The couple knows Randle well and what he values as a winemaker, and so they carefully tend to their vineyards to ensure it produces the quality grapes that Randle uses to craft Artezin wines.
From high above the Talmage Bench, the legendary winemaker Paul Dolan grows his grapes on his biodynamic farm, The Dark Horse Ranch. A fourth generation winegrower, Dolan is committed to sustainable growing practices that enhance and reflect the sense of place Mendocino varietals communicate. Winemaker Johnson relies on Dolan for a supply of both Zinfandel and Petite Sirah grapes each year.
Michael Collins grows his grapes on a modest nine acres alongside the Russian River. Having sold his family winery several years ago, Collins clearly continues to grow grapes for the pure love of it. You’ll find him on his tractor every morning before sunrise personally tending to the vines that source some of the best Zinfandel in the world including, of course, Collins Vineyard Zinfandel.
Third-generation grapegrower, Larry Venturi manages the family vineyard alongside his wife Doreen in Mendocino county. The couple’s certified organic vineyard was planted generations ago in 1912. Both Larry’s grandfathers emigrated to California from Italy and brought with them the farming skills that Larry continues to practice today. Not only does the couple grow grapes, but they also source their own produce from their family garden. Doreen loves to cook and make traditional Italian dishes from the fresh, vine ripe tomatoes she grows herself.
Charlie Sawyer began his career on the production side of the wine business where he established a capsule company in Ukiah called Maverick. He ran Maverick until retiring, and then decided to transition to the agricultural side of the wine business. Charlie purchased a beautiful parcel of land in Ukiah overlooking Lake Mendocino to the east and the entire Ukiah Valley to the west. Here, he planted Petite Sirah and Zinfandel vines. The Zinfandel vines are head trained and drip irrigated, providing ultra-premium grapes for Randle Johnson’s Artezin wines. Charlie loves spending his retirement actively maintaining his vineyards, and Randle loves working with passionate growers like Charlie, who Randle knows will help deliver quality grapes for him to craft quality wines.