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November 2014

Pine Wine: Have a SLO Thanksgiving 
AZDAILYSUN.COM Read full article here »
Crazy Superstitions and Rituals of Winemakers - Part I 
INTOWINE.COM Read full article here » 

October 2014

Claiborne & Churchill's Thirty-Year Evolution
WINEBUSINESS.COM Read full article here »

November 2014
Thanksgiving Recipe: Clay's Sweet Potato Soufflé
Print Recipe

October 2014
5 Perfect Thanksgiving Wines

Jessica Yadegaran
Claiborne & Churchill Dry Riesling (San Luis Obispo): One of the many virtues of riesling is its great versatility, especially with all the textures and flavors presented on the Thanksgiving table.

Read full article here »

2014 Accolades

2014 California Sate Fair
2013 Dry Gewurztraminer – Bronze 87
2013 Dry Riesling – Bronze 87
2011 Pinot Noir – Bronze 86

2014 Sunset International Wine Competition
2013 Dry Gewurztraminer – Silver
2011 Pinot Noir – Bronze
2012 Pinot Noir – Bronze

2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2012 Dry Riesling – Gold
2011 Pinot Noir – Gold
2012 Twin Creeks Pinot Noir – Silver
2012 Runestone Pinot Noir – Silver
2012 Dry Gewurztraminer - Bronze

2014 Orange County Fair
2013 Dry Riesling – Silver
2013 Dry Gewurztraminer – Bronze
2010 Pinot Noir – Bronze
2012 Pinot Noir – Bronze

2014 Central Coast Wine Competition
2013 Dry Gewurztraminer – Gold, Best of Gewurztraminer
2013 Dry Riesling - Silver
2011 Pinot Noir - Silver

January 2014
Central Coast wineries well worth a visit

Sarah Fritsche
Saturday, January 4, 2014

Well over 200 years after missionaries planted the first vines in the region, San Luis Obispo remains a thriving wine-focused town. Local university Cal Poly even has its own wine and viticulture program, the largest of its kind in the country.

In SLO, as the locals call it, the pastoral charms of the Central Coast's wine country are many: rolling hills, winding country roads, lush vineyards and laid-back tasting rooms, and all just a few miles from the ocean.

Claiborne & Churchill Vintners

Prior to diving into winemaking in 1983, Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill taught Old Norse languages, literatures and German at the University of Michigan. More than 30 years later, Alsatian-style whites, specifically dry Gewurztraminer and dry Riesling, remain the center of production for the small, family-owned winery.

The tasting room is located in the wine cellar, so visitors can watch winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia in action while sampling six wines ($10). On Sundays, a free tour is offered at noon and 2 p.m. A small gift shop features the usual temptations, and a large picnic area, complete with wicker settees, also beckons.

Read full article here »

July 2013

Recent Accolades & Wine Reviews!
2013 Dallas Morning News and TexSom
Gold - 2010 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley

2013 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition
Gold & Best of Class of Region - 2010 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley

2013 Central Coast Wine Competition
Gold - 2012 Dry Gewürztraminer, Central Coast

July 2013 Wine Spectator - July 2013
86 pts. -  2012 Dry Riesling “Bold and vivid, with ripe, round flavors of lemon zest, peach, apple and nectarine, featuring a very juicy backbone. Touches of spice and black tea appear on the finish. Drink now -- M.W.

March 2013

Claiborne & Churchill wins Gold at the 2013 Dallas Morning News Wine Competition.
Gold - 2010 "Classic" Pinot Noir

February 2013

Claiborne & Churchill wins two Golds and a Silver at the 2013 Pinot Noir Shootout.
Gold - 2010 "Classic" Pinot Noir
Gold - 2010 "Runestone" Pinot Noir
Silver - 2010 "Twin Creeks" Pinot Noir

January 2013

C&C wins big at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
Gold - 2010 "Twin Creeks" Pinot Noir
Gold - 2011 Dry Riesling
Silver - 2011 Dry Gewürztraminer
Silver  - 2010 "Classic" Pinot Noir
Bronze - 2010 "Runestone" Pinot Noir

California Grapevine
92 Points - 2011 Dry Gewürztraminer
91 Points - 2011 Dry Riesling

Recipe: "Shawn's On Main" Chocolate Almond Sticky Toffee Pudding

One cup all purpose flour
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 medium eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds
4 oz (4 squares) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
a little butter to coat ramekins
a little sugar to coat ramekins

For The Sauce: 4 Tbsp butter, 4 Tbsp heavy cream, 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375º. Lay out all equipment (8 ramekins plus a baking dish to hold them, 3 mixing bowls, whisk, ladle, plastic spatula, measuring cups and spoons) and measure out all ingredients. Butter ramekins and dust with sugar. Combine and sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, reserve. Melt chocolate and butter together slowly using a water bath, keep warm and reserve. Heat half-and-half and slowly temper into chocolate-butter mixture using whisk. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar for two minutes until creamy, then temper into this the half-and-half+chocolate mixture. Carefully fold flour mixture into this, then fold in almonds. Fill ramekins two-thirds full and bake 50 minutes in a covered water bath.
To make the sauce, combine the three ingredients in a saucepan and cook until sugar melts and all ingredients are emulsified. Serve the puddings warm with, the Toffee-Caramel Sauce and whipped cream.

October 2012

Wine Enthusiast reviews Claiborne & Churchill Wines:
2011 Dry Riesling (Edna Valley) Editors' Choice, 90 Points!
"It’s bone dry, with that famous Edna Valley acidity, making for a mouthwatering wine. The flavors are subtle but compelling, suggesting lemons and limes and touches of papaya and white flowers. A beautiful white wine to accompany an appetizer, at a very appealing price." —S.H.

2011 Dry Gewürztraminer (Central Coast) 87 Points
"Picture perfect Gewürz, this is crisp and incredibly flavorful, with notes of grapefruits, Asian pears and tropical fruits, exotic spices, wild honeysuckle and vanilla. While the label says it’s dry, it’s rich in honey and butter flavors." —S.H.

2011 Pinot Gris (Central Coast) 87 Points
"Dry and brisk in acidity, this comes with a big burst of citrus fruit, green apple and spice flavors. Nice as an apéritif or paired with Asian fare."  —S.H.

2009 Pinot Noir (Edna Valley) 88 Points
"This is classic Edna Valley Pinot Noir: dry, light bodied, with crisp acidity, modest alcohol and forward flavors of raspberry, cherry and cola. Production was just shy of 2,500 cases." —S.H.

2011 "Runestone" Pinot Noir *Barrel Select  (Edna Valley) 88 Points
"Crisp in acidity, this is a fruit-driven wine, with rich flavors of raspberries and cherries. Lots of new French oak adds even richer notes of vanilla and buttered toast. It’s as ripe as any Pinot Noir in the world." —S.H.

July 2012

1st Annual Sunset International Wine competition
52 judges rated more than 2,840 entries.. And ours was voted one of the BEST!
2010 Dry Gewürztraminer
**Gold Medal Winner and Best of Class!
2009 Pinot Noir
**Bronze Medal Winner

June 2012

California State Fair Wine Competition
2010 Dry Gew
**Gold Medal Winner, 95 Points - Best of Class!
2010 Dry Riesling
**Silver Medal Winner, 89 Points - Best of Class!

Central Coast Wine Competition
2011 Dry Gewurztraminer
** Gold Medal and Best of Class

2010 Dry Riesling
** Silver Medal

December 2011

Claiborne & Churchill receives an Eco-Agriculture Award from the US Green Building Council. Click here for more information.

US Green Building Eco-Agriculture Award

September 2011: News from the Winemaker

Word on the streets or should I say the "word in the vineyards" is that yields for the 2011 harvest are expected to be small.  This is not only in our little Edna Valley, but AVA's throughout California. Two major events have caused these lower yields. In late April California was hit with a major 2-3 day cold snap which froze much of the new growth in the vineyards. In addition to the two day frost, springtime brought cold weather and lots of wind. This combination delayed vine maturity and limited the amount of fruit set.

Overall, 2011 is a smaller harvest for California, down approximately 20-30%, but is still expected to be a good harvest. Cool weather has allowed grapes to ripen and mature slowly. This year I've seen some of the smallest berries and clusters in my 10 years of winemaking, especially with Pinot Noir grapes. These small berries will create a larger skin to juice ratio resulting in intensly rich and flavorful wines.

Since most of the wines we make are "cool" climate varietals like Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir, the cooler than expected growing season has not been detrimental to the Edna Valley as it's proven to be in other AVA's.  I think our customers will have a wonderful vintage to look forward to.
— Coby Parker-Garcia

August 2011

Wine Enthusiast reviews Claiborne & Churchill 2008 Dry Riesling (89POINTS):
"A delightful Riesling, crisp in Central California Coast acidity and with classic flavors of green apples, citrus fruits, honeysuckle flowers and a pungent note of petrol. It straddles the border betweeen dry and off-dry, and is easy to like with Vietnamese and Cambodian fare.  – Steve Heimoff

June 2011

Congratulations to the 2010 Clueless White crossword puzzle winners: Dorothy Knowlton, Richard Brose, John Armstrong, Joe Valetti, Miranda Mayes, Rick Smith, Billie Ryan, Larry McLellan with help of Valerie Waling and William Koseluk, Vanessa North, and Staley McCartney.
Click here to learn more our 2010 Clueless White wine.

May 2011

NYIWC Bronze Winner: Claiborne & Churchill 2008 Pinot NoirOur 2008 Pinot Noir was awarded a Bronze Medal at the New York International Wine Competition. It was truly a international competition with 726 wines submitted from over seventeen countries and fourteen states within the United States. 145 medals were awarded with only 2 gold medals, 30 silver and 119 bronze medals.

May 2011

Springtime has come to the Edna Valley, and good things are happening at Claiborne & Churchill! Our Riesling vineyard is leafing out and producing a healthy crop of little berries. The warm weather this week bodes well for a nice bloom and “set” so we can look forward to an excellent 2011 vintage.

In the meantime, we’re busy bottling the wines from last fall. We’re about half-way through with this project: we bottled the 2010 Estate Riesling, Dry Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Dry Muscat and “Edelzwicker” (Proprietors’ Blend) in February and March, and yesterday we bottled the Dry Riesling, Chardonnay, and a newly created blend of “Clueless White” (from our Blending Seminar a few weeks ago).

Two of these new whites will be released next week, first to members of the Cellar Club and then onto the Tasting Room menu. They’re a perfect choice for refreshing your palate as the weather turns warm. Come by the Tasting Room and give ‘em a try!

Claiborne and Churchill owner reviews his second life as a vintner
The Tribune, Friday, March 4, 2011 --- by Raven J. Railey

     Former professor of Old Norse languages started Edna Valley winery 30 years ago. At 70, Clay Thompson is both reflective and forward lookingClay Thompson.
      “I feel like I’m at a height looking down at the past,” said the scholar-turned-winemaker. It’s been 30 years since the partial namesake of Edna Valley’s Claiborne & Churchill Winery moved to the Central Coast to start his “second life.”
      Before that, he and wife Fredericka Churchill Thompson taught at the University of Michigan. He was a professor of Old Norse languages and literatures and she an assistant teacher of German.
      The Thompsons were inspired by the wines of Alsace, a Germanic region of France known for whites such as gewürztraminer and Riesling.
      They’ve remained loyal to those dry wines, adding pinot noir as it increased in popularity and became associated with the cool coastal regions around San Luis Obispo.
     Like most local winemakers, Thompson enjoys experimenting.
     “I make probably 16 other wines in very small quantities,” he said. They are sold through the wine club and tasting room.
Pinot and reindeer
     Thompson had occasion recently to revisit his “first life.”
     “One of the high points of my academic career occurred in 1980,” the vintner said. “One of my ‘special specialties’ was runology, the study of inscriptions in the old runic alphabet.”
     Used in Scandinavia during the Viking Age, the symbols have a handful of fans globally. Before he retired, Thompson assembled the world’s top runologists and organized the subject’s first international symposium.
     “A year later, I had completely changed my life, left academics and started making wine,” he recalled. “But to my surprise, the people who attended that symposium kept it going.”
     A Norwegian professor who had been a graduate student in 1980 contacted the Edna Valley winemaker to invite him to the most recent assembly. And could Thompson bring some Runestone Pinot Noir?
     The wine was served at the symposium’s July dinner, paired with medallions of reindeer.
     A month before the Oslo event, it was poured with dinner at Hearst Castle, when the Thompsons were Fine Wine honorees at the Central Coast Wine Classic.
Looking ahead
     For decades, Claiborne and Churchill has proudly displayed the straw bale construction that insulates its building with no air conditioning.
     The winery was an early member of the Sustainability in Practice certification program, designed by the Central Coast Vineyard Team. This spring, it is adding the SIP logo to the label of its new bottlings.
     Only available wineries whose vineyards and operations meet standards for practices that support the long-term health of the environment and community are certified by SIP.
     Clay Thompson’s commitment to forward-looking conservation programs earned him an honor, along with other local farmers, from the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden. Their work was celebrated at a Jan. 30 event.
     Having recently turned over the reins of winemaking to Coby Parker-Garcia, such honors are making Thompson feel understandably nostalgic.
     “I get recognized for my contribution during my ‘first life’ 30 years ago, and for my ‘second life’ at present,” he said. “A tidy full-circle.”

March 2011

2008 Twin Creeks Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
**Gold Medal and Purple Showdown Ribbon - 9th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout and Summit
2008 Runestone Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
**Gold Medal - 9th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout and Summit
2008 "Classic" Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
**Silver Medal - 9th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout and Summit

July 2010

2008 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
**Best of Class, Gold Medal - 2010 Central Coast Wine Competition
2007 Dry
Gewürztraminer, Central Coast
** Silver Medal - 2010 Riverside International Wine Competition
2008 Dry Gewürztraminer, Central Coast
**Gold Medal - 2010 Orange County Fair Wine Competition
**Bronze Medal - 2010 Riverside International Wine Competition
2008 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
**Bronze Medal - 2010 Orange County Fair Wine Competition

March 2010

2008 Dry Riesling, Central Coast
**Gold Medal - 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2008 Dry Gewürztraminer, Central Coast
**Silver Medal - 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2008 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
**Silver Medal - 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2007 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
**Gold Medal (4 hearts) - 2010 Affairs of the Vine Pinot Noir Summit
1st Place - female consumer, 3rd Place - male consumer, 1st Place - male judges

Gift and Rewards Card

  Enjoy 5% credit towards future purchases.

Claiborne & Churchill Gift and Rewards Card 


  • Put any dollar amount you wish on the card.
  • Easy solution to your gift giving problems.
  • No wasted time in shopping malls or department stores!
  • We can mail the gift card to you or directly to the recipient.
  • They can choose the exact wines that they like!
  • Perfect gift for that person who has everything.

* not valid for use on Cellar Club Shipments.
Additional Benefits:

Recipient can continue to use as a rewards card and receive 5% credit towards future purchases.

 To purchase a gift card today, please call us at 805·544·4066

June 2009

News from the Winemaker:

Greetings C&C fans-

Is it time to start thinking about harvest? I ask myself this question at least 5 times per year. I contuinue to tell myself, it's never too early to start thinking about harvest.

With most of the wine already in bottle, my mind moves from one important factor of winemaking (bottling) to another important factor of winemaking (harvest). Things are looking promising for this upcoming harvest. We have a few new vineyard sources. If all goes well, 2009 will mark the first commercial bottling of our "Estate Riesling" vineyard. We came up with the clever name of "Claiborne Vineyard." This along with another Riesling source within the Edna Valley will give us the opportunity to produce an "Edna Valley" Riesling. So I say bring on the new vintage of grapes!


Coby Parker-Garcia

April 2009

Spring Has Sprung:

     Spring has come to California, and Mother Nature has brought her annual "Stimulus Package" to our valley. Our newly-pruned vineyard has begun to push the little green buds that promise a bountiful harvest of Claiborne & Churchill Estate Riesling in six or seven months (see photo).
     In the meantime, we are busy in the Cellar preparing the wines from last fall for bottling. Some of these will make their debut with our next Wine Club shipment, in early May. I suspect a lot of you are looking forward to new bottlings of such "cult favorites" as our Dry Muscat and the Dry Rosé we call "Cuvée Elizabeth." In addition, May will see the release of the "Cellar Club Cuvée" that was created at a special Blending Seminar we held here at the Winery in February.

January 2009

News from the Winemaker:

Hello from the cellar:

As we start off this new year, we put to sleep the 2008 vintage. All white wines are safely aging eagerly waiting spring bottling. Meanwhile, red wines are finishing up malolactic fermentation (a secondary fermentation occurs where malic acids converts to lactic acid).

As I write this, I look forward to all the different lots of wines to work with: An estate Riesling (all 12 gallons), a new source of Pinot Noir, a tasty Tempranillo, and another year of great aromatic whites. I think you will enjoy the wines from 2008. It was the harvest of everything: early and late frost, early and late heat spikes, smoke, and low yields.

Cheers from the big bad wolf
Coby Parker-Garcia

Recent Awards!!

2007 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
**Gold Medal Winner, 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2007 Dry Gewürztraminer, Central Coast
**Silver Medal Winner, 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2007 Dry Riesling, Central Coast
**Silver Medal Winner, 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
2007 Pinot Gris, Central Coast
**Silver Medal Winner, 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competitionreamin

October 2008
Greetings from Claiborne & Churchill!

These are exciting times for us, as the Fall Harvest is in full swing, and the Holiday Season is just around the corner! Allow us to bring you up to date on the latest news, recent wine releases, some attractive specials, and a look at "coming attractions."

ImageThe 2008 Harvest

As I write these lines, we are about three-quarters of the way through Harvest. We've crushed all of our 2008 Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat. The Riesling is still a week or two away from full ripeness. One vineyard of Pinot Noir remains to be picked, hopefully next week.
The quality of the fruit seems excellent; however, the yields are down considerably, and we've had to use all our ingenuity to make up for some shortages. A new "Twin Creeks" Pinot Noir vineyard came on board, and we found new sources to augment our supply of Chardonnay, Syrah, and Muscat grapes.
Again this year, the crush proceeds under the expert guidance of Winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia. His tireless crush-workers are Jamison Stiehr and Michael Chase. Yours truly (Clay Thompson) makes an occasional "cameo appearance" on the crush pad.