USD Magazine, Winter 2004


by Claudia Graziano I r's a crisp fall day at the Clos LaChance Winery in San Marrin, Calif., a small town halfway between Morgan Hill and Gilroy in the eastern foo thills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The frenzy of the winery's first fall harvest has ended, and the peaceful stillness is broken only by the distant chirping of birds and the rustle of leaves rising from the rows of young vines. "We planted our vineyard four years ago, so chis first harvest was really exciting," says Kristin Murphy '99, Clos LaChance's events manager and the daughter of owners Bill and Brenda Murphy. "We cracked a bottle of champagne as we watched the first grapes being poured into the crusher." T he crop of home-grown grapes tripled production at the vine– yards of rhe smal l, fan1ily owned winery. Clos LaChance, which also buys grapes from local vineyards around Northern California and produces nearly 30,000 cases of wine each year, bottled 350 cases of wine from its on-sire vineyard last year. Thanks in part ro the

recent fall harvest, che Murphys expect ro bottle 750 cases from their own grapes in 2004. "Ir feels great to see cusromers come in and leave with a case of our wine," says Cheryl Murphy '96, Kristin's elder sister and Clos LaChance's direcror of marketing. The winery draws crowds to its European-style tasting room on the weekends, bur during rhe week, when there are no visitors, the winery's busi ness offices still bustle with activity. "Winemaking is a competitive business," says Cheryl, who man– ages sales in the Un ited States and overseas. "Distributors are consoli– dating, and most are accustomed to wo rking with larger clients. Keeping their attention is a challenge." The Murphy sisters point our that thriving among Northern California's renowned Sonoma and Napa Val ley wineries, located less than 150 miles away, isn't only about producing quality wines. Just as important, cl1ey say, is providing visitors with a memorable experience.



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