The Wedell Cellars dream began in the late 1970's when Maurice Wedell began working with a well known French Restauranteur in Los Angeles. During the next ten years with the restauranteur's guidance, Maurice developed a passion for wine. This passion led Maurice in 1989 to move along with his wife Susan, and their newborn son Justin, to the Central Coast of California, an area that produces some highly acclaimed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Almost immediately we planted a small experimental vineyard of Chardonnay in what became the first step in realizing their dream of creating a wine styled after the great Burgundies of France.
Knowing that they would need expert guidance in their quest to create such a wine they sought out a local winemaker and grape farmer to assist in the management of the vineyard and to make their wine. The first vintage in 1994 consisted of one barrel of wine, twenty-eight cases of Chardonnay were produced from their own grapes and from purchased grapes. Encouraged by the results in 1994, Maurice and Susan decided to expand production gradually over the next few years by purchasing grapes from selected vineyards in Edna Valley while planting and maturing their own vineyard capable of producing enough grapes for their wine.
In late 1996 almost three acres of Chardonnay and one+ acre of Pinot Noir were planted on a steep hillside in the southern end of Edna Valley to achieve this goal. The photograph on the right is that of Maurice planting the first vine in this magnificent vineyard. Realizing that ripeness has never been a problem in California, a north facing hillside was chosen to delay bud break and increase the "hang time" of the grapes, thus allowing for higher acids and lower sugars than what is normally found in Edna Valley. The Chardonnay was planted at density of 1100 vines per acre and the Pinot Noir was planted at a density of almost 2000 vines per acre. The vineyard practice has been to crop thin to one cluster per shoot and no more than four shoots per vine. The vineyard began to produce Chardonnay in 1999 and Pinot Noir in 2000. Beginning with the 2000 vintage a watercolor of this vineyard is on the label of all Wedell Cellars Hillside Vineyard wines. The Hillside Vineyard designation on a limited amount of our production signifies the best of our estate grown fruit, typically our Hillside Vineyard designated production is limited to one to three barrels per year of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The purchase of grapes is limited to select lots of custom grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, beginning in 2004 we began to source fruit for our second Pinot Noir from two separate vineyards in the highly regarded Santa Rita Hills Appellation of Santa Barbara, the 2004 Wedell Cellars Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir was released in July 2006 and has a new label featuring a grape vine created by well known artist Joanne Beaule Ruggles. In early 2005 two acres of Chardonnay in the Hillside Vineyard were grafted over to Pinot Noir, reducing our estate Chardonnay planting to one acre while increasing our estate Pinot Noir planting to three acres, the grafted vines yielded a small crop beginning in 2006. In 2010 we began sourcing Chardonnay also from Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley. In 2011 we introduced our companion label Wavertree, value priced Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc additions to our selection of wines.
While we do not routinely submit our wines for review, Wedell Cellars wines have been recognized by various wine writers in the past for their excellence, indeed, one well known wine publication, Decanter Magazine, stated in an article that one of our Wedell Cellars Pinot Noir's could easily be mistaken for the finest French Pinot Noir made, Domaine de la Romanee Conti.