Colleen FitzGerald is the assistant winemaker for the Chenin Blanc + Viognier program at Pine Ridge Vineyards. In addition to seeing this wine through fermentation and blending, Colleen works with winegrowers in the Clarksburg American Viticultural Area in the Sacramento Delta region to make decisions about pruning and vine management as well as harvest timing, which is crucial with Chenin Blanc.
“I love working with Chenin Blanc because it has distinctive acidity and vibrant lemon-lime characters that complement the weight and floral notes of Viognier,” says Colleen. “It’s an inspired, food-friendly, unpretentious wine. I like it with curry, barbecue, anything spicy.”
In France, Chenin Blanc and Viognier are grown in different appellations on opposite sides of the country and are never blended together. In California, however, we take a more relaxed and experimental approach.
Our Chenin Blanc hails from Clarksburg, located in the Sacramento River Delta. The locale experiences temperatures in excess of 90°F during the day and a much cooler climate in the evening. This kind of differential creates ideal ripening conditions where the fruit can develop lush, ripe flavors but retain enough natural acidity for excellent balance. Here, the loamy mineral-rich soils give Chenin Blanc a “honey” character, which is one of its defining attributes.