Chantal Forthun

Chantal Forthun

Flowers Vineyards & Winery (Head Winemaker)

Chantal Forthun, a native of California, grew up surrounded by the agricultural environment of the Central Valley. After completing high school, she enrolled at California State University, Chico, in 2000, earning a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from there in 2005. Not one to focus only on her challenging academic major, Chantal was a member of the Chico State Symphonic Wind Ensemble while a student.

Immediately following graduation, Chantal joined Oak Ridge Winery in Lodi, remaining there until early 2008, starting as a laboratory technician and becoming the winery’s enologist in late 2006. It was at Oak Ridge while barrel fermenting Chardonnay that she realized that she’d found the right career, one that engages all the senses, combines science, art, and physical labor, and fosters camaraderie through teamwork. Her next position was at Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz, where she took a position as Assistant Winemaker/Enologist. Under the mentorship of the storied Randall Grahm, the winery’s storied owner, she learned biodynamic viticulture and natural winemaking in making terroir-driven wines.

Chantal left Bonny Doon in early 2011, departing for a harvest internship with Quartz Reef in Central Otago, New Zealand. She returned to the U.S. in the summer for a stint as Senior Harvest Intern at Rhys Vineyards in Los Gatos, CA. This was followed, in early 2012, by her appointment as Winemaker for Flowers Vineyard & Winery in Cazadero. In January 2016, Chantal was promoted to Director of Winemaking for the winery and is now located in Sebastopol.

Chantal’s winemaking philosophy is epitomized in her own words: “Each vintage gives us a fresh opportunity to attentively farm our Sonoma Coast vineyards and take these grapes from vine to bottle. At Flowers, ‘minimal intervention’ doesn’t mean hands-off; it actually means more hands are involved in the preparation, requiring us to be present in each moment, through every step of the process.” She prides herself on the fact that the winery uses meticulous biodynamic and organic viticulture techniques, and relies exclusively on native yeasts for producing its wines.