A Way Out: The Story of Chad
You hardly need an MBA to understand why CHAD Pinot Noirs have garnered more 5-star ratings (1,435) than any other wine ever presented on Wine Access. The exact same Pinot Noir that Chad offers to our clients for $24 per bottle could be found on local wine shop shelves — under the labels of certain top Carneros producers — for $35-$50. The 2016 CHAD Pinot Noir was not only made by one of the greatest names in Carneros Pinot Noir, it was also drawn from two special vineyard sites that have long accounted for the richest and most age-worthy Pinot Noirs in the appellation. $48 per bottle under the winery’s own single-vineyard Pinot label — just $24 under Chad’s.
So, how are we able to offer $48 Pinot at only $24 per bottle? All thanks to Chad.
Here is the story of Chad:
In 2009, when we first got the call about a few hundred cases of Pinot Noir that were set to be released under a label called “CHAD,” we were skeptical. We were told that the identical wine could also be found sporting a far more recognizable package, but that the blue-chip Pinot Noir producer in question needed cash. “CHAD,” it was suggested, was their way out.
The black storm clouds that had taken down Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were hovering over the Napa and Sonoma valleys in early 2009. Even with superb Cabernets and Pinot Noirs resting quietly in cellars, the top wineries on the coast were shaking in their boots — about to feel the cash crunch.
That’s when a light bulb went on for Chad. He would offer pricing that was substantially higher than the depressed bulk market, but roughly half the shelf price. He’d bottle it under his own label and, to protect the winery, leave out any mention of the brand. He’d tell the consumer where the grapes came from and how the wine was made, and he’d handpick only the best.
The market has recovered, but each year, those blue-chip estates — and a growing list of others — have come to rely on Chad’s calls. The reasons have been many, but above all, their business models demand a timely cash-flow post-harvest. Today, Chad is able to hand-select the best grapes to work with, and he continues to come up with some of the greatest bargains on the coast, bottling them under his “CHAD” label.