Apicius Alumni: Wine Studies
Schooling His Way Through Wine
Update with Wine Studies Alum, Chase Renton, General Manager and Winemaker at L’Angolo Estate
By: Lauren Fromin
Celebrating this Blending Issue's theme of 'No Legal Age for Drinking Culture', we were excited to catch up with one of Apicius' Wine Studies Alum, Chase Renton. Students coming from abroad can sometimes focus more on the fact that where they are from, they are unable to legally consume wine. However, there are other students who embrace the culture of wine, as opposed to just its consumption. Chase's experience truly sums up how a passion for a culture can strike at anytime, regardless of age or experience, and how one can excel in pursuing their passion. Pouring his soul into wine has enabled him to live his dream of bringing the culture to those around him, literally from the roots to the glass.
Chase Renton is a former Apicius Wine Studies student from Spring 2011. Since graduating from university, he had contemplated graduate studies, however, his love of wine culture and the opportunity to open his very own vineyard with family presented itself. In fact, Chase has described the entire process of setting up shop as a form of graduate school in itself, considering the experience has been cholk-full of exposure to the world of business, wine, hospitality, and beyond - a learning by doing practice.
It all started as a general interest which led him to working in a wine bar that eventually led to wine sales. This passion surrounding the culture of wine brought him to Florence, Italy to focus on the subject. That is when Chase enrolled in Apicius. When asked about his studies and what stood out, he stated, “the ability to have classes focused on old-world wines made it apparent why wine is part of daily life - it is not simply a beverage, but a way of life.” In addition, even though he prefers the physical labor of harvesting as well as food and wine pairing, the wine service aspect he felt was a benefit to have experienced through his studies while at Apicius, offering an entire understanding of wine culture.
Chase took advantage of his time while in Florence and of the time he was given by his professors. To this day, he views his professors at FUA-AUF as key to his education. He truly enjoyed the lectures and proves the benefits that lie in the relationships created within academic environments. In fact, his professors have been a great contact to have within the wine industry and they have helped him during the creation of Chase’s vineyard.
The vineyard in question is L’Angolo Estate, described as, “ a family-owned, organic vineyard and boutique winery”. It is located in the Dundee Hills of Oregon. The inaugural vintage will be released this fall, including two Pinot Noirs and one Chardonnay that are exclusively harvested from the estate. Asked about the positives of Oregon as the choice for the vineyard, Chase mentioned how the Willamette Valley in Oregon offers cool climate and is good for mimicking old-world styles, providing the same latitude and growing degree days as France, where he spent time working with wine in Burgundy, hence the choice of the blend. Additionally, their vineyard is organic with a noticiable difference in the soil, since so many can be tarnished with fertilisers.
Chase and his family are extremely excited for the first harvest from their vineyard, a tasting room was even built recently on top of one of the slopes, facing East in the hills to capture the moment all of their hard work has provided. This is just the beginning, because Chase has plans to expand his brand and experience through a partnership here in Italy. During his studies at Apicius, Chase met his partner, their mutual interest in wine bonded their friendship and together they will co-produce 100% Sangiovese Chianti Classico in Radda, Chianti. He will purchase three tons of fruit and this will render 300 cases of wine during the first harvest in 2016. The harvesting in Oregon and Chianti will take place simultaneously and Chase will revisit Italy for a final tasting before final production. Clearly, Chase’s time at Apicius has paid off, because he was able to setup the relationships needed to benefit his true passion and he is currently living his dream both in Oregon and Italy - a true international success.
Before we wrapped up the interview, Chase has some advice for future FUA students, “When you come, embrace the Italian way of life, don’t take it for granted because it is a beautiful place and different than anywhere else. You should value the culture because Italians live life beautifully”.
If you are interested in learning more about L’Angolo Estate, visit their website http://langoloestate.com, where you can sign up for their mailing list to get the latest updates, or find them on Facebook and Instagram: L’Angolo Estate.
Facebook: L'Angolo Estate