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San Luis Obispo » Claiborne & Churchill

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Claiborne & Churchill Video Tour

Claiborne & Churchill

2649 Carpenter Canyon Road
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 544-4066

Tasting:   Open 11-5 daily
Tasting fee is $5, credited to purchase
5% discount on 6-11 bottles, 10% on case purchase
  Tours by Appointment
  Straw-Bale winery building
Price Range:   $12 to $20 per bottle
Established:   1983
Vineyards:   3 acres
  10,000 cases

Claiborne & Churchill Description

Just off rural Highway 227 near the miniscule township of Edna is a straw-bale winery building that houses the unique Alsatian wines of Claiborne & Churchill.

The 16-inch-thick walls, made of rice straw encased with plaster, help maintain a constant cellar temperature for their dry-style Rieslings and Gewürztraminers. Winemaker Clay (Claiborne) Thompson and his wife Fredericka Churchill left academic life in 1981 and switched from being “old Norse and German language scholars” to becoming Edna Valley winemakers.

Entering the property, you notice a large oval 2,000-gallon oak wine barrel that shades a few picnic tables, as well as the vines of their small demonstration vineyard. A newly planted vineyard flourishes behind the winery. Once inside the building you discover that you are in the very midst of the wine-making, with stainless steel fermenting tanks and oak barrels all within arms’ reach of the tasting bar. A few wine accessory items are for sale, including attractive bottle bags, biscotti and dipping oils. A couple of European “throne” chairs along with large brass rubbings of sinister-looking Nordic knights complete the eclectic nature of the place.

Claiborne and Churchill’s grapes are sourced from the local area; the wines are made using traditional European methods, including barrel-aging and fermentation of even the Rieslings and Gewürztraminers. The winery also produces small lots of Pinot Gris, Dry and Sweet Muscat, and an Edelzwicker. A Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, dry rosé and a sparkling wine round out the offerings of this unusual and interesting winery.

Claiborne & Churchill Features

Ambiance Types of Wine Amenities
Kid Friendly
Family Run
Country Charm
Casual & Relaxed
Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinot Noir
Tours Available
Picnic Sites
Event Space
Gift Shop
"Green" Technology
Write Your Own Winery Review

Claiborne & Churchill Reviews

Staff Knowledge & Friendliness
Amenities, Comfort & Cleanliness
Wine Quality
Overall Impressions
Great Whites
kirkdicanio, simi valley
This is the place for whites. They specialize in dry rieslings and dry gewurztraminers and they really are special. The young lady pouring was very nice and almost finished our tastings when in walked the owner and winemaker who I recognized from a photograph in the tasting map. We had a picture done with him and he was very friendly and knowledgeable. The reds were ok but the whites were excellent. A very enjoyable first stop.

Staff Knowledge & Friendliness
Amenities, Comfort & Cleanliness
Wine Quality
Overall Impressions
Great wine at good prices
OCWineLover, Orange County
Their 2008 PortObispo is AMAZING! It pairs very well with dessert or a cigar! I also had a Nektar there that was to die for!

Staff Knowledge & Friendliness
Amenities, Comfort & Cleanliness
Wine Quality
Overall Impressions
Great Orange Muscat
aSLOgal, San Luis Obispo
Very knowledgeable pourer -- he made some great recommendations for the rest of our day of tasting as this was our first tasting stop for the day. We were tasting in the cellar, I think which of course, is pretty neat. It's a small tasting bar but the wines are pretty good. I purchased the Orange Muscat which was a nice treat for me. I'd never tasted anything like that before -- a not-too-sweet dessert wine that will pair nicely with lots of potential desserts.

Review Disclaimer

The above reviews are the subjective opinion of Winery Advisor members and not of California Winery Advisor.

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