Claiborne & Churchill Vintners
Edna Valley AVA
Award-winning wines and traditional European techniques
Located in the heart of Edna Valley, just outside San Luis Obispo, California, Claiborne and Churchill Vintners is a small, family owned and operated winery founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill. The couple was inspired by the wines of Alsace, France, and chose to focus on premium dry wines made from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris grapes, as well as handcrafted Pinot Noirs from vineyards throughout the Edna Valley region.
Clay and Fredericka were former teachers at the University of Michigan (Clay specialized in Old Norse Languages and Literatures and Fredericka taught German) and left for California in 1981 to pursue a new life together in the wine industry. Clay landed a cellar job at Edna Valley Vineyards and produced the first three vintages of Claiborne & Churchill in a small corner of the winery’s cellar. In 1986, Clay left his Edna Valley job and moved Claiborne & Churchill’s production into a warehouse unit in a San Luis Obispo industrial park known as “The Gourmet Ghetto” (San Luis Sourdough and The Spice Hunter, hugely successful businesses, begun there).
Clay and Fredericka had hopes of establishing their own vineyard and winery and searched far and wide for a property that would fit their needs. In 1990, they purchased a small six-acre parcel in the heart of Edna Valley that was once used for dairy cows and horses. The couple wanted a winery that would fit the rustic, rural environment of Edna Valley, while also supporting environmental concerns and sustainability. In 2003, winery construction was completed and Claiborne & Churchill Vintners became California’s first Straw Bale Winery (stacked bales of straw actually form the insulation of the building which naturally maintains a constant cellar temperature without the need for mechanical cooling or heating).
Today, Claiborne & Churchill is known throughout the Central Coast, not only for their environmentally minded souls, but also for their award-winning wines and traditional, meticulous European winemaking techniques. Clay is supported by winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia, who grew up on the Central Coast and has a deep respect and passion for the region and its wines. We hope you enjoy this special Gold Wine Club Plus! selection from Claiborne & Churchill Vintners. Cheers!