From the beginning in 1982, Au Bon Climat winery was totally devoted to making classic, Burgundian-styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County. The convergence of cool, brisk Pacific air, marine-based soils, and east-west running valleys of the area provided an ideal place for growing exceptional grapes. Hence the name “Au Bon Climat,” the French idiom for “good place”.
Forty years later, the wines have earned a world-class reputation internationally. Jim Clendenen, “The Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat, set the objective and stayed true to its course. As the fads in California winemaking have come and gone, Au Bon Climat has maintained a laser focus in producing traditional, site-specific, nuanced, iconic wines.
Au Bon Climat is more than a winery, It is a state of mind. The vision to create world-class, Burgundian-styled Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of intrigue, longevity, and balance using traditional principles was set in 1982 by Jim Clendenen, after exploratory trips to Burgundy. It never changed.
By incorporating Old World winemaking in a New World wine region, the wines inherently carry their own signature but still resonate restraint and equilibrium. Barrel fermentation, whole cluster pressing, lees aging, and substantial time in François Frères barrels are standard practices at ABC. Hand-picked grapes are harvested at a sugar level that encourages the wine to age slowly. These are not flashy, exaggerated wines. Rather, they are layered, well-structured, and lower in alcohol.
Jim Clendenen assembled a dedicated winery team that understood and shared his manifesto early on. This committed crew became the Au Bon Climat wine family. The symmetry between creating masterful wines, a gratifying/mentoring work environment, and a strong, like-minded community, has brought loyalty and a shared sense of vision to the winemaking style that remains to this day.