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.
At the time of this photo, we were trying to come up with names for our new projects. First, the new baby (in belly). Second, the new wine brand (in barrel). Many of you know that coming up with names is tough. Especially boy names and winery names. We spent many an evening brainstorming both, not getting very far. We didn’t end up coming up with the baby’s name until 3 days after he was born, and even then we couldn’t really decide, going with 2 names instead of one (John Henry). The winery name was even tougher. We vowed to find a name easy to pronounce, easy to remember, but most importantly, NOTHING FRENCH. As we talked in circles, we started thinking about Jackson, Wyoming, where we both once lived and where we met. The Gros Ventre River and Wilderness was a favorite place. We kept coming back to it as a name and throwing it out. Hard to pronounce. Hard to remember. Totally French. During one of those brainstorms, Sarah balanced a cup of tea on her big belly and looked up the definition of Gros Ventre in English. Definition: big belly. We looked at each other and started laughing. We must be believers in signs (sort of), because we couldn’t get past this one.
The big belly is now a big boy and Gros Ventre Cellars is doing better than ever. Thanks to all of you who have learned how to pronounce our name over the years (Grow Vaunt, for the record), the French speakers who always chuckle and say it better than we ever could, and the Wyoming folks who say it without the blink of an eye.
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.