Faces of SLO County:


by Katy Budge with edits by K. Reka Badger

Photo by Kevin Steele www.kevsteele.com

Located just five miles from the Pacific Ocean, Chamisal Vine­ yard supports 80 acres of grapes, primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Planted in 1973, it was the first vineyard in San Luis Obispo County's Edna Valley.

The vineyard's unique terroir- a combination of location, soil, and climate that Chamisal's winemaker, Fintan du Fresne, de­fines as a "sense of place"- produces exceptional fruit. The re­gion, he says, "has a wonderful long growing season...and there are so many micro climates, it's a really cool area to make wine."

Chamisal's finished wines display subtle,yet distinctive flavors that du Fresne describes as ''an aspect of our terroir...almost like a wild fennel or anise character on the Chardonnay. On the reds,it can be more of a citrus note, sometimes with an exotic spice character."

A New Zealand native, du Fresne came to San Luis Obispo County in 2003 to work one harvest, but after marrying a Cal Poly co-ed,he made the county his home. Du Fresne and his wife have two children and the family likes to spend time exploring the region.

"We do a lot of mountain biking, hiking, sea kayaking," du Fresne says. "There's not much of the county we haven't seen. "I love the climate and the versatility of the area," he adds. "There's so many different things you can do. I think it's pretty close to perfect."