Founded by Sarah and Chris Pittenger in 2009, Gros Ventre Cellars is a small, family-owned winery operating out of Healdsburg, CA. We produce about 2,000 cases of wine, including vineyard-designated Pinot noir from the West Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley, and several wines from the El Dorado region.
Sarah and Chris Pittenger
We launched Gros Ventre Cellars soon after our 2008 marriage. But it really started in the place we met – near the Gros Ventre River in Jackson Hole. Chris had been working in bottle shops and restaurants in Colorado and Wyoming, spending nights serving and pulling corks so his days were free to snowboard and fly fish. Sarah was working in advertising in New York and San Francisco, and was visiting Jackson Hole (where she previously lived) when our paths crossed at a party. A long-distance friendship was born, surviving Chris’ switch from the dining room to the winery, and his moves from Jackson to Napa to Australia to Healdsburg to New Zealand and back again. We kept in touch while he spent time working at wineries like Robert Biale, Torbreck, Williams Selyem, Marcassin. We now live with our two children (Jane and John Henry) and dog (Bear) in Healdsburg, CA, where Chris is also the winemaker at Limerick Lane.
An Update from Chris & Sarah
Greetings to friends near and far!
Here in Healdsburg, Harvest has started with a bang. Actually, a lightning strike. Over the last 2 weeks, the Wallbridge Fire, burning a couple miles from our home, has made our previous worries and stresses seem insignificant, as we spent our hours watching, waiting, praying, and hoping for deliverance from yet another disaster. On Sunday night (8/23), dry lightning and gusty wind were forecasted but did not end up materializing. In fact, a rare August rain fell instead (the best sound in the world). It’s
been wonderful to see our community come together again with strength and grace to help each other and support our firefighters. We’re hopeful things will keep trending in a positive direction and our evacuation warning soon gets lifted… we might even start unpacking the cars!
Time stops for no one. And neither does harvest. Regardless of pandemics and wildfires, the grapes need to be picked, crushed, fermented, and put in the barrel, just like every year. There is something comforting in that.
We are now in full-blown HARVEST MODE. This yearly state of being means rushed footsteps, pinging cell phones, grape sampling, constant logistics, swear words, late nights, early mornings, the smell of fermenting grape juice, ice cold Modelo after a long day, and a sense of excitement that, even after years in the business, does not get old. It is thrilling and exhausting and beautiful. It’s why we do this.
The fire and evacuations are making things interesting right now. Every winemaker in northern California is worrying about smoke taint. First lab results have shown zero in our grapes so far, but we’ll be monitoring it closely. The aforementioned rain and current foggy conditions are great for firefighting, but tricky for grapes. On top of that,
the entire wine community is logisticizing around the pandemic and how to make things as safe as possible for vineyard and cellar crews. We’re doing everything we can.
Also happening – the kids have gone back to school. Here in Sonoma County all children are distance learning from home. Last spring we were rushed, confused, and rattled… this year we’re trying to put as much energy and positivity into the children’s school days as we possibly can. Our hearts go out to each and every family working to keep their children learning and thriving, and to the teachers who are working harder
than ever. Godspeed to you all!
Thank you, as always, for supporting us and other small wineries and restaurants. You’re making a difference and we are grateful!
Sarah and Chris
When it was time to come up with a name for our brand, Sarah was hugely pregnant with John Henry. We were considering the name Gros Ventre, because we met in the region, when we learned that “gros ventre” is french for “big belly.” Pregnant belly, place we met… we couldn’t escape the double meaning, and so our brand was born.
Our Pledge to Give
As a family and as a business, we’re on a long path towards being the best citizens we can be, with a focus on giving more and taking less.
Our community is critical to us, for well-being, happiness, and mutual support. We support local schools and other type of charities through monetary and wine donations and participate in charity events whenever we can.
One of our ongoing missions is to put a significant part of our resources towards conservation and environmental efforts. In 2015, we raised funds at our Friends in High Places Event in Jackson Hole, where 100% of the proceeds went to for The Trust for Public Land. In 2016, we donated 20% of the proceeds from our magnum release to the Environmental Defense Fund. In 2017, we sold library wine 2- and 3-packs with 100% of the profits going towards environmental and disaster relief efforts. In 2019, we supported the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s efforts to Save the Block through a monetary gift, wine donations, and event participation. We’ll continue to come up with new ways to support causes that matter to us, and we’ll let you know how our mission evolves. We thank each and every one of you who has already supported our efforts – it truly warms our hearts. Although we’re tiny, together we are mighty.