Unmistakably one of Sonoma’s top talents, Ondine Chattan’s worked for famed wineries like Ridge Vineyards, Cline Cellars and Geyser Peak. Thanks to nakedwines.com Angels, she’s carved out a new path
Ondine is one of four new winemakers nominated for nakedwines.com’s 2019 Rookie of the Year. Cast your vote by following her winemaker page – here.
Since leaving the large global wine company where she’d spent years making wines by the corporate book, Ondine was looking only for a way to get back to hands-on winemaking.
Her long-time friend and mentor Daryl Groom knew this. So he had introduced her to Antonio, the wine director at a place called nakedwines.com, who was calling her now.
As one of the company’s original winemakers, Daryl had recommended Ondine as a potential new winemaker. The company, with its unique design of customers subscribing and funding winemakers like Daryl as he set about making just the wines he wanted, sounded like the answer to Ondine’s search.
To make wines her own way again, for a group of drinkers she could meet and connect with… it was exactly what she was looking for.
So Ondine sent a sample of her wine to the nakedwines.com wine team and crossed her fingers.
Now, on the other end of the call, Wine Director Antonio was saying he’d gotten the sample and tasted it. So had Rowan, the company’s founder.
Though proud of her wine, the tasters’ palates were daunting. She worried.
Had the wine been good enough? Suppose they weren’t impressed? Would her search go on?
But Antonio was on the other end now, speaking excitedly. They liked it. A lot. It was a go. She would be nakedwines.com’s newest winemaker.
“It was a moment of bright awakening that rekindled my passion for and hope in the industry that I have built my life and identity around,” Ondine said.
Her wines would finally truly be all hers.
In the year since, those wines have grown to four total and a breakthrough into Mendocino wine country.
Backed by the nakedwines.com model of customer-investor “Angels” funding her new wines with the promise of one day enjoying them, Ondine’s able to finally make the wines she’s always wanted, using grapes from North Coast vineyards she’s long admired.
“Joining (nakedwines.com) opened so many doors for me to work with my favorite wines and appellations and probably most importantly my favorite growers,” she said.
Ondine’s Angel-funded wines
To start, she teamed up with mentor Daryl on the Chattan Groom Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, using the pair’s mutual favorite North Coast grape. “Watching it roll off the line made me giddy,” Ondine said.
Then, it was onto her own Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc, a wine swimming in citrus and tropical flavors, then a Russian River Pinot Noir that went on to become a special-edition gift for Angels this June.
Along the way, she’s gotten to rub shoulders with the company’s other winemakers at the Angel-funded wine studio in Kenwood.
“It is such a warm and friendly group of winemakers, each of whom brings a signature interpretation to his/her work which makes me feel especially fortunate to have earned a place among them,” she said.
Among the other high points since that first call from Antonio are the connections she’s made with those enjoying her wines. With her own “wall” on nakedwines.com where she and Angels can post and interact, Ondine’s been able to reach those drinking her wine like never before.
There was the first 5-star review of her wine, as well as the first negative review, that she was able to personally respond to.
“One of my favorite posts thus far was from an Angel who paired my Pinot Noir with her family’s traditional homeland meal of roasted guinea pig,” Ondine recalled. “While this might have seemed surprising to some, I was really touched to have my wine included in such an intimate and personal repast.”
As she goes into another year making her own wines for Angels and joins the ranks of fellow new winemakers up for the nakedwines.com Rookie of the Year award, still the most memorable moment remains that call from Antonio and the excitement over her wine sample.
“It was as though I had been granted entrée into a new realm of possibility- which in reality I was,” Ondine said, “with a stable of impressive talent and a client base of the most sincere, adventurous, welcoming, eager wine advocates.”
Follow Ondine to discover the star-studded wines of Healdsburg, Mendocino and the North Coast