This year Blanchard Family Wines made our list of the Best Wineries To Visit in Healdsburg. We wanted to let our readers know more about the key people behind this exciting boutique winery. We were lucky enough to have Jene Chapanar (the winemaker at Blanchard) and Mark Blanchard (the winery owner) answer some questions for us.
CWA - What interests you about wine?
Jene Chapanar: The most interesting thing for me is how individual wines can taste so uniquely different even if they are from the same varietal or even the same vineyard source. There is an endless world of variety, flavors, and styles.
Mark Blanchard: Wine is such a simple thing in one regard, nothing but fermented fruit juice. But at the same time, wine is a part of human history and popular culture, it's an integral part of the cuisine, it can bring together families and define communities. Wine is a magical, romantic, and artistic part of our life.
CWA - What can you tell us about your winemaking style?
Jene: First of all, my winemaking style is all about getting out of the way of the fruit, because after all, great wine is made in the vineyard. All of our wines are made in incredibly small lots, with as little additives or manipulation as possible. As well, I try to make fruit forward wines, and bold, heavy-handed reds.
CWA – What is the most important factor in making a great wine?
Jene: It's a trite and old statement in the business, but all good wines come out of the vineyard. It all starts with sourcing the grapes from the best vineyards, using the finest growing methods. After that, one must embrace what Mother Nature has given us and make the best wines possible.
CWA - Is there any advice you wish you got before you started making wine?
Jene: It was a serious advantage to begin my winemaking career in Healdsburg. Because of the tight knit community, it was easier to get great advice. And the best advice I got was to stay out of the way of the fruit and let the wine develop without too much manipulation. Although, I wish someone would have told me how much tedious cleaning was necessary in winemaking.
CWA - Which wine law/regulation would you change if it were up to you?
Mark: I suppose about everyone in the wine industry would prefer if there wasn't so much regulation with the state to state direct shipping. Furthermore, I would love to be able to self-distribute out of state, opposed to the necessity of dealing with distributors. As a small boutique winery, it's impossible to for me to compete with the big guys in distribution.
CWA - Do you have any favorite wine publications/websites/social media sites you follow?
Mark: I follow multiple individual wineries on social media. Social media is very important for upstart wineries like ours, especially since we have a limited budget to advertise and market our brand.
CWA - How do you feel about the current wine rating system? Do you feel it helps consumers with their wine buying decisions?
Mark: We don't submit our wines to major publications very often, and only enter our wines in a few major competitions each year. Although we consistently win high honors and awards for our wine. It helps with marketing and sales of course. However, I feel like too much of the industry is controlled by a few critics and their biased opinions.
CWA - What were the last two truly memorable wines (that weren’t your own) you tasted?
Jene: 2012 100 Acre Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Papapeitro Perry Pinot Noir
Mark: 2012 Nalle Hopkins Ranch Pinot Noir, 2016 Spicy Vines Rose of Syrah
CWA – Which of your current wines are you the most excited about?
Jene: Our upcoming 2015 and 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon are both going to be amazing wines. The Alexander Valley vineyard source last year was some of the best fruit we've ever sourced. It's a fairly large vineyard for us to work with, but it is actively sourced by some of the finest and high-end producers in the area.
Mark: I'm most excited about our current 2016 Dry Creek Malbec. It's our first release of Malbec as more than a blending variety and it's quickly becoming my favorite wine to bring home from work.
CWA - Is there a winemaker that you modeled yourself after or just appreciate their skill?
Jene: I believe it's more of a case that winemakers are more inclined to take snippets from many different individuals as opposed to styling themselves after a single individual.
CWA - Where can people taste your wine?
Mark: Our tasting room is located a few blocks off the downtown square, in Healdsburg. We host private tastings only, all by appointment. And as the owner, I host all private tastings myself.
CWA - Where can people buy your wine?
Mark: We basically have no distribution, so one will not find our wines in stores or restaurants. So one can find our wine in our Healdsburg tasting room, or at our webpage, blanchardfamailywines.com.
CWA – Making wine is great, but selling it is even better. How do you market and sell your wine? What works best for you?
Mark: Essentially all of our wine is sold direct to consumer through our wine club, tasting room, and our web page. We live off of word of mouth, referrals and our online presence. We have been the best Yelp reviewed winery in Healdsburg for 3 years and that sort of customer feedback is our best marketing.
The best wine clubs in 2019 should make it easy for you to enjoy wine at home. Whether you want to select your own wine […]
The Top 8 Healdsburg Wineries For Visitors Why should you get to know the eight best Healdsburg wineries for visitors? Because, this small, tourist-oriented town […]
We are often asked, “What are the top wineries for Napa insiders?” If you have been wine tasting in Napa Valley, you’ve probably hit some […]