Claiborne and Churchill has been producing wine for over three decades

August 11, 2017

Skye Pratt

Founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill, Claiborne & Churchill Vintners is a small, family-owned winery devoted to producing Alsatian-style wines in California’s pastoral Edna Valley appellation.

Clay and Fredericka met while teaching Old Norse and German, respectively, at the University of Michigan in the late 1970s.

Thompson was always an academically-inclined person, having studied abroad, and earned his PhD in Old Norse Language and Literature at Harvard University. He never could have guessed that his first professorial appointment, with the University of Michigan, would also be his last.

“I was invited to UCLA to give a talk on my academic subject and also to Berkeley in May of 1981,” he recalled. “Fredericka was visiting her sister in California at the time, so we rented a car and drove up the California coast, stopping along the way at a few wineries.”

One of those wineries happened to be Edna Valley Vineyard near San Luis Obispo. “It was really low-key,” said Churchill. “No one even knew there was a winery out there at the time, and there were just a couple of employees.”

This quick glimpse at the winemaking life spoke to Clay. “I thought, these guys like what they do, and they look happy. They work hard…and they like to work hard!”

Read Full Article →

« Back to News