Morgan Clendenen

Morgan Clendenen

Shokrian Vineyard (Winemaker)

Morgan Clendenen says that her mission and goal as a winemaker is to illuminate and define Viognier, elevate its profile, and explore its potential through keen observation and copious tasting. She seeks to sound the depths of this enigmatic grape, to reveal its secrets, and to shine a bright light on the extraordinary fruit grown in the cool vineyards of the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys of California’s Central Coast.

Morgan started in the wine industry working for an Italian wine importer in her native North Carolina. Then she moved on to a boutique wine importer to optimize her learning curve. A move to a sales and marketing position at Robert Sinskey Vineyards, in Napa, led to her meeting Jim Clendenen, winemaker and owner at Au Bon Climat. They married, and she moved to Santa Barbara County. When Au Bon Climat, by chance, was offered a lot of Viognier grapes in 1996, Cold Heaven Cellars was born.

Morgan knew little about Viognier at the time and had only some practical knowledge of winemaking and no formal training. She learned winemaking “on the job” and also says that she had some amazing mentors, including Bruno D’Alfonso and her then-spouse.

After closing the Cold Heaven tasting room in 1998, Morgan joined Shokrian Vineyard in Los Alamos as one of its winemakers. She continues to produce Viognier, making up to five single-vineyard versions, and Syrah, and has added Pinot Noir to her portfolio.

Morgan takes great pride in her two now-adult children, both of whom grew up with an appreciation of environmental stewardship.