A Story of Passion and Attention to Detail
Chasseur Wines is dedicated to small-lot, handcrafted wines in the old French tradition with emphasis on vineyard designates. Our small size allows complete control over the winemaking process, enabling us to produce the finest wines the fruit has to offer. Chasseur Wines is the creation of William Hunter, a 30-year winemaking veteran. The name 'Chasseur' is French for Hunter and celebrates his desire to create Burgundian style wines.
Those in the know about Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have heard of Chasseur Wines and its intensely focused Founder/Winemaker, William Hunter. Prince of Pinot calls him “’one of the “Wild Men of West County,’ the band of winemakers interested in the Pinot Noir grown in far western Russian River Valley and true Sonoma Coast …” Hunter’s Chardonnay, too, is acclaimed; Charles Olken, publisher of the venerable Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine, picked his as No. 5 of his top 10 winemakers for California white wine. Notable wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr., in Parker’s Wine Buyers Guide, 7th Edition, dubbed Chasseur Chardonay and Pinot Noir “beautiful”, adding, “For some reason, Chasseur has remained under consumers’ radar…” . Says winemaker Greg LaFollette 'the best kept secret in Sonoma County'.
Obviously, Hunter’s first passion is wine, not publicity. He moved to Hermosa/Manhattan Beach just south of Los Angeles in 1969 upon discaharge from the military to return to school to study philosophy. He fell into the Southern Californian counter culture and beach scene, tending bar at night and surfing during the day. Eventually he migrated to the restaurant business and his growing love of wine earned him a position as wine steward at the Chronicle restaurant in Santa Monica where he fell in love with Burgundy. By now, approaching mid-life he started thinking that winemaking could be a tantalizing next step in a business he knew he would be involved in for the rest of his life. He applied to the University of California at Davis and began taking classes in the sciences in preparation, and was accepted into the Enology program in 1984.
After graduating in 1987, Hunter spent time working at Rombauer Winery in St. Helena and Bonny Doon Winery in Santa Cruz. In 1989 he began making wine for a small producer in Geyserville. Yet, he always wanted to be able to express his own style, so in 1994, he began making his own wine on the side. He made two barrels of Dutton Chardonnay from the original shop block and a barrel of Carneros Pinot Noir. His wines sold out locally almost overnight due to their character, personality and overall quality. Each year thereafter, seeing the potential of the west Sonoma County area for growing Pinot Noir he would scour this area for fruit that met his demanding criteria for quality. He soon became a major factor in the renaissance of West county Pinot Noirs in the early '90's which is attributed to the new Dijon clones (this was before the stupid movie 'Sideways'). Immediately taking advantage of the small vineyard blocks planted to these Dijon clones by gentleman farmers he realized his dream of working with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and own a winery in an area he thought best suited for those elusive Burgundy styled wines and where he would work for himself and focus solely on making small-lots of top quality wine. He now produces fewer than 1,000 cases keeping only the best of the best vineyards.