Photo by Dasja Dolan
Chaine d’Or is a small winery in Woodside, and we are celebrating our 33rd anniversary this year.
In 1985 Anne stood on the steps of the Redwood City courthouse and made a bid for a small property that was being sold in foreclosure and which bordered our home. That was the start of Chaine d’Or Vineyards. As soon as we acquired the land we began the process of clearing it of the overgrown poison oak and weeds. After the clearing we hired a bulldozer and deep ripped the hillside, followed by planting a cover crop of Purple Vetch to improve the soil. The next year we turned under the vetch and planted the grapes, primarily Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon together with smaller quantities of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot to be blended into the red wine. We installed the irrigation system, and put up the trellis, and went through a few trials calming a neighbor who didn’t like the look of a “naked” vineyard.
After a couple of years we realized that we really were going to be able to grow grapes, and quite a few of them. That thought then was the realization that we would need a little winery, and so we built one by expanding our home and tucking it underneath the living room.
Much in the tradition of the small European Vigneron, we grow grapes and make wine primarily for local people and the occasional visitor who happens to find us. And, in the same tradition, word of our quality product has spread via the – ahem – grapevine. We’ve been winning awards and gaining in popularity. And for most of our time we’ve been doing all of our own work. Anne has been the winemaker and Jerry has been driving the tractor.
But in 2015 Nicolas Vonderheyden joined the Chaine d’Or family and took over all of the management and operations of the effort. Nicolas has brought vigor and renovation to the vineyard and under his keen eye the wines are reaching new heights.