Shooting for the Moon (Moon Mountain, That Is)

Eppie Ordaz, Winemaker for Ordaz Family Wines and son of its legendary founder, Jesus “Chuy” Ordaz said, “We’re a family-run business, start to finish, not some large corporation with a misleading name. My dad, brothers, uncles, and cousins do the day-to-day farming at each vineyard where  we source  fruit.  I make  the  wine and handle sales and marketing, and my mother deals with the office work.”

Chuy has been working in the northern California vineyards for more than  40  years, starting with Kenwood Vineyards before it was sold to Korbel Cellars. That prompted him to found Palo Alto Vineyard Management. It was his knowledge and expertise that later helped launch the Ordaz Family Wines brand with his two sons.

“As cliché as it is, great wines do begin in the vineyard. These vineyard sites are where my Dad and family have spent most of their lives.” Eppie said.

The Ordaz Family  Wines  sources  much of their fruit from select blocks of prestigious vineyards in the Moon Mountain District AVA, a newer appellation that’s not well-known except to a select few – like Chuy – who know the land like their own backyard. Chuy has worked with Moon Mountain vineyards and is considered an expert in the AVA.

The area was once called Valley of the Moon for its moon-like appearance – red, volcanic soils, and large  boulders  that  dot the landscape at up to 2,600 feet. With over 17,000 acres within its borders, the appellation has only 2,000 acres planted to vines. Eppie explained, “Moon Mountain wines have been building up quite a bit of steam among wine lovers in the past few years. The climate is like the Mediterranean – hot days give way to coastal breezes in the late afternoon and evening.”

The Ordaz Family Wines Moon Mountain portfolio includes Chuy Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Rosé of Grenache and Mourvèdre. With Chuy’s vast knowledge of Moon Mountain terroir, and Eppie’s wine-making skills and vision for the future, Ordaz Family Wines already possesses essential pillars for success in the wine world. “In five years or so, we’ll hopefully build a tasting area at one of our favorite vineyards,” Eppie shared, “Someday, I’d like to make a Chablis or Beaujolais wine; our wines tend to lean towards that style, so it would be cool to compare them side by side.”

When asked who he most admires in the wine business, Eppie replied, “That’s a tough question, because I grew up in Sonoma and spent so much of my childhood amongst some of the greatest people, not just wine- makers, in the wine world. I could rattle off a myriad of amazing people, but I always have one constant, my Dad, who doubles as my best friend and travel partner. He’s probably forgotten more about grapevines than I will ever know, and he is the epitome of hard work, perseverance, and kindness.”




Article By: Layne Randolph