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Wine writer + expert Elaine Chukan Brown speaks with Jim Clendenen, the winemaker, owner, and “mind behind” of Au Bon Climat in Santa Barbara County.

Jim began his winemaking career with the 1978 harvest as assistant winemaker at Zaca Mesa Winery. In 1981, his vision broadened working three harvests in one year at wineries in Australia and France. In 1982, Clendenen decided, along with Adam Tolmach, to start a winery dedicated to Burgundian varietals in leased quarters. Adam left in 1990 to pursue his own efforts leaving Jim solo at the helm. Through careful re-investment from its own production, Au Bon Climat (which means "a well exposed vineyard") has grown over its history to over 50,000 cases and is recognized worldwide for classically styled wines made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris.

Elaine and Jim with discuss the aging potential of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, sourced from highly acclaimed vineyard sites in Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast. They will also explore the success of lesser known varieties – such as Nebbiolo – and look at how site and the influence of Old World winemaking practices has shaped wine styles.

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