California-Santa Cruz Mountains
Nicolas Vonderheyden grew up on his family’s vineyards of Château Monbrison in Margaux. As a child Nicolas remembers…”I was running around & playing with my cousin, interrupting my folks while tasting with customers in the cellar, riding the tractor with my dad…During harvest, actively assisting after school with my sisters and picking clusters that, sometimes, seemed bigger than me, sorting the berries and sampling must, running in the vat room, cleaning, moving hoses, helping as I could…As I grew up the more I felt part of this universe, part of nature, loving the vines, the process of grapes becoming wine, the smells, the atmosphere! I knew very early on that I would become a vigneron!”
Niclolas went on the study food science and engineering in the Netherlands and graduated from a master’s degree program in Wine Estate Management from the University of Bordeaux, followed by a long-term internship in California. Nicloas worked as assistant winemaker at Vertie Winery in Healdsburg, CA before returning to Bordeaux to work as asst. to cellar master and vineyard manager at Château Lassegue, St.-Emilion and as asst. director at his family’s estate, implementing sustainable vineyard management practices.
After years of traveling and working around the world, Nicolas finally decided to settle in California and in 2015 he took on the management of Chaine d’Or Vineyards and winery located at the head of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Woodside, this “golden chain” of hillsides known by legendary vintners for its capability of producing world class wines. The vineyard is just under 2 acres sitting at 1,400 ft elevation, planted in 1987 with approximately 50% Chardonnay, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
2015 was the first vintage Nicolas bottled under Maison Areion’s label born out of his belief in artisanal methods and respect to terroir and tradition. Nicolas implemented sustainable and organic farming practices, soil and canopy management, and not using any herbicides or insecticides. In the cellar, all the wines undergo natural fermentation, aged in neutral oak barrels without filtering, just minimal settling before bottling.