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UCLA Magazine profiles Gavin Chanin

UCLA Magazine profiles Gavin Chanin

UCLA Magazine features Gavin Chanin in an article about fellow Bruins in the wine industry.
Gavin Chanin ’09
Owner, Chanin Wine Company

The summer before his freshman year at UCLA, Los Angeles native Gavin Chanin decided to combine work with adventure through a job at Au Bon Climat (ABC) winery located on the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria. It was a decision that would greatly impact his future. “I ended up falling in love with winemaking,” he recalls. “After that first harvest, I started to take every fall quarter off from UCLA so I could work at the winery from the start of harvest until December, which let me see the whole process from start to finish.”


Even the meaning of the name Au Bon Climat would prove auspicious — “a well-exposed vineyard.” For Chanin, this translated to learning and working simultaneously with ABC’s winemaker, Jim Clendenen and Qupe Wine Cellars founder, Bob Lindquist. “They’re pioneers of Santa Barbara wine,” says Chanin. “They were inspirational to me because they started their companies at a young age with very little capital, but did it out of their love for wine.”

As for his studies as an art major, Chanin saw winemaking as a complementary adjunct. “You need a sense of touch and instinct in both painting and winemaking,” he says. “They both have the potential to transform something unremarkable into something amazing — raw pigment into a painting, grapes into wine”

In 2007, a year shy of graduating, Chanin took a detour to South Africa and New Zealand to work in wineries there. It was also the year he launched his own label. “We’re pretty old school,” he says of the business. “The winery is basically a steel shed with insulation sprayed in it.” Chanin’s two loves dovetailed as his art was reflected in his vintages. “Each of my labels is one of my paintings,” he says. “They illustrate that wine and art are entwined.”

By the time Chanin graduated in 2009, he’d worked eight vintages in three different countries. Today, he’s an assistant winemaker for both ABC and Qupe. Additionally, he devotes himself to Chanin Wine Company, through which he works with three vineyards including Bien Nacido, Los Alamos Vineyard and Le Bon Climat. “I was lucky to meet some of the best farmers in the area during my internships,” he says. “This allowed me to get my foot in the door and source some of the most sought after fruit.”