Provenance Vineyards WinemakerChris Cooney serves as winemaker for Provenance Vineyards in Rutherford, California. His favorite part of winemaking is capturing the essence of a vintage, a grape varietal and a place—and then sharing that essence with others. He also enjoys the open community of Napa Valley and often exchanges experience and ideas with fellow winemakers. Cooney has worked at Provenance Vineyards since 2003, and his commitment to tradition and innovation allows him to create wines of high quality and intuitive expression.
Prior to venturing into wine, Chris worked at a bio-pharmaceutical consulting firm, where he created spreadsheets, crunched numbers and wrote reports. As an active cyclist and skier, Chris had trouble adapting to cubicle life. He decided to become a winemaker, a calling that combines his love of fine wine and food with his natural bent toward biology and chemistry. He returned to school and worked harvests all over the world—including in Germany and Australia—before earning his master’s degree from the University of California, Davis, in 2002.
Chris loves working with the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Rutherford Bench. “Winemaking is about expressing the character of the place,” he says. “Each vineyard has its own distinct personality. During the winemaking process we try to highlight and polish the best attributes while smoothing out any rough edges. Whether we blend fruit from different vineyards or emphasize a single vineyard block, our goal is to get all the grapes to play nice with each other. When we’re successful, the final wine is a harmonious expression of origin—whether that origin is a single vineyard, multiple vineyards, an appellation or a subappellation.”
A native of Palo Alto, Cooney now lives in Berkeley with his wife. When not making wine, Chris enjoys rock climbing, skiing and trying new recipes. He also enjoys mountain and road biking all over the wine country, including along the hilly roads of Lake Berryessa and Pope Valley.