HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The story of Charmant Vineyards began well before we set eyes on our property on Larsen Road.
Growing up on a farm in South Africa, and coming from an ancestry of farming, I knew that eventually I would have to get back to the land. And while viticulture is a part of my ancestral heritage, I never thought I’d find myself one day being able to enjoy wine made by my own hand. However, the moment my wife Julie and I stood at the gate on Larsen Road, we fell in love with the property. I turned to Julie and said in Afrikaans: Die plek is sjarmant! This place is charming! The name stuck. To honor my French heritage, we chose the French spelling “charmant.” The fact that it was a working farm with a producing vineyard, well, I guess that was fate.
In a sense, our story mimics that of my French Huguenot farming ancestors who migrated from the Languedoc region to South Africa in the 17th century to escape a system of persecution and injustice — after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. When Julie and I first came to the U.S., we were in our twenties with a mere $300 in our pockets. We too left our familiar surroundings and culture to escape a system of persecution and injustice — apartheid — that we could no longer tolerate. For us, America was where equality and the values we ascribe to are held in high esteem.
And, when it comes to producing Pinot Noir, you could say that we’re also following a family legacy. In the mid-20th century, Professor CJ Theron, a distant relative, was instrumental in the propagation of Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Today, Pinotage is known around the world as South Africa’s native varietal.
Getting to where we are today has been hard work — scraping together everything we could to buy the property, working side-by-side with our crew to tend the vines, and learning winemaking from the ground up, taking courses at UC Davis, and working with two of this area’s preeminent consultants — Prudy Foxx and Tom Stutz. But the outcome has been worth it. We’re very proud of our first 2017 vintage and look forward to sharing our future vintages with you.
While we’re alive, let’s live!
Eug Theron, Owner & Winemaker