by Fred McMillin
for October 23, 1998


Winery of the Week

Davenport's Dandies


Margaret Davenport With Winemaker Margaret Davenport and a new, modern winery, Clos du Bois is a dominant force in Sonoma County wine.

...from James Laube's California Wine

Clos du Bois makes an unusual number of Sonoma benchmark [outstanding] wines. Included are their Alexander Valley "Calcaire" Chardonnay, their Late Harvest Riesling, the Alexander Valley "Briarcrest" Cabernet Sauvignon, the Cabernet-blend "Marlstone," the Sonoma County Merlot and the Dry Creek Valley "Flintwood" Chardonnay. Impressive!

...from Bob Thompson's California Wine Atlas

The Rest of the Story

In our correspondence, Margaret has stressed the outstanding quality of the Clos du Bois grapes. How did they originate?

Frank Woods was a marketing-oriented graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Management. In 1964 he established large vineyards in Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys. The first commercial harvest was 10 years later. Before too long, a Clos du Bois wine was served to Queen Elizabeth. Not bad!

As for winemaking facilities, Hiram Walker bought Clos du Bois in 1988. Soon, there was a shiny new winery on a 44-acre site in the Alexander Valley, featuring, for example, 24,000 small oak barrels. Margaret can ferment in oak and age in oak to her heart's content.

Just the Facts

Name—Clos du Bois
Owner—Hiram Walker's Wine Alliance Co.
Address—P.O. Box 339, Healdsburg, CA. 95448
Capacity—400,000+ cases a year
Contact—Office of Public Relations Director Dan Solomon, (707) 433-8268
Impressive Wine—I aged a "Calcaire" Chardonnay eight years and then included it in a blind tasting. Originally the Wine Spectator gave it a resounding 91. Subsequently it had lost some refreshing tartness, but acquired arresting new aromas and flavors. We felt it was still a 91.


What does Clos du Bois mean? French: "clos" - enclosed; "bois"—woods. Hence, "enclosed in the woods"... remember, it originally consisted only of vineyards, and the founder's name was Woods.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.



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