The Estate is owned by Ken and Teresa Bernards whose combined experience is moving into its 3rd decade, having made acclaimed wines for other producers prior to focusing on their own label, Ancien. Their trips to Burgundy filled them with inspiration drawn from the ancient history and tradition of winemaking. While the techniques have constantly been refined, they have been using the same principles of winemaking for generations.
Ken and Teresa Bernards, Owners and Winemakers
In 1992, we harvested our first two tons of Pinot Noir from four rows atop a knoll in the southwest corner of Carneros. Producing but five barrels, this marked the beginning of Ancien Wines. In the years since, we have continued our pursuit of those rare and special plots where Pinot Noir can rise from great to sublime. We have added to our pursuit of Pinot Noir, the production of its close relative, Pinot Gris, as well as its Burgundian sibling, Chardonnay. For both of these white wines, we closely follow the French artisanal tradition of in-barrel fermentation and aging.
Carneros Chardonnay comes from a plant selection, planted on vineyards at the Toyon Ranch on the Napa side of Carneros and the Vella Ranch. Carneros Pinot Noir is a blend of two very similar vineyards situated near the Napa-Sonoma county line at the southern end of the appellation.
The two vineyards, Domaine Chandon and the Ferguson Ranch, were both planted in 1973. Both are austere sites with lean soils and low vigor. The similarity of site, rootstock, clone and vine age (28 year old) ensure a commonality between the wines. Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir is grown in Steiner Vineyard, at 1100 feet elevation, on the cool northwestern slope, 17 miles from the ocean. The first grapes were planted here in 1973 (making them pioneer of the region). Seeing the unique qualities of grapes grown in this outstanding area, they were a driving force in creating the Sonoma Mountain Appellation. The soils vary through the vineyard changing from clay loamy stuff with fractured ryolite to an austere rocky area. Carneros Pinot Gris is grown on the far southwestern edge at the Sangiacomo family's El Novillero Vineyard (2 acres). The soils and eastern facing orientation are perfect.