Cantara Cellars, findingourwaynow.comYou just never know where a chance meeting will take you.  My assistant and I were visiting Fields Family Wines for the purpose of interviewing the vintner for an article on their wine and winery.  While we were there, we met Mike Brown, vintner and owner for Cantara Cellars of Camarillo, California.  He invited us to come visit his winery when we were in Southern California. My assistant and I had already planned a trip, so we set up a time we could come to interview Mike at Cantara Cellars.

Cantara Cellars, findingourwaynow.comWhen met and we talked with Mike about Cantara Cellars, his passion for his wine and winery was obvious and infectious.  When he gave us a tour of his operation, you could see the pride he takes in the wine he produces.  The wine he produces shows it.  His finely crafted wines are amazing.

Mike comes from Lodi, California where his family grew chardonnay wine grapes for the many wineries that surround the area.  In fact, his family’s home is a 1/2 mile from the Mondavi operation of Woodbridge.  His earliest memories were of the smell of the fermenting grapes as he was waiting for the school bus during crush.  When you ask him about those times, he’ll laugh and regale you with all the things he did as a kid on the family farm.  We loved his stories.

Mike left the family wine grape growing business, went to college, became an engineer and moved to Camarillo, California.  However, wine was still in his blood, so while on a wine tasting trip to Oregon, he and his wife made a decision to start a winery, and the rest is history.

Cantara Cellars, findingourwaynow.comMike entered the winemaking business from his home.  He and his wife quickly realized that they needed more space to pursue their passion. They now produce over 10 to 14 different varietals of award winning wines, depending on his interest and customer demand.  Their wine collection always includes their signature Chardonnay.

Cantara Cellars, solely owned by Mike and his wife Chris, has been in existence since 2002.   The name for their winery came from the area they live.  A neighbor’s young daughter couldn’t pronounce their name, calling them Mr. & Mrs. B, so the Bee became an icon on the label and the cork. Even thou Mike produces the wine in Camarillo, the grapes are primarily grown in Lodi by his family and other vintners such as Fields Family Wines.  The Cantara Cellars wine tasting room, located in the heart of the Ventura wine region, is warm, inviting and gives a true sense of the Browns passion for their wines.

Cantara Cellars,

The fact is, we were hard pressed to decide which wine we liked the best.  They were each unique, interesting and delicious.  So we decided to showcase their signature Chardonnay.

Cantara Cellars Chardonnay 2011

Cantara Cellars,

This is what Mike Brown has to say about his Cantara Cellars Chardonnay 2011:

“Fresh, lively green apple, almond, shortbread, and cream flavors wash easily across the palate, leaving a splash of jasmine in their wake. The lingering finish is dry, with acids that accentuate the fruit flavors and carry them through to the long finish. 100% barrel fermented in neutral oak with multiple yeast strains, aged ‘Sur lie’ with no secondary fermentation. Ruth’s Vineyard is a special block of family grown Chardonnay named for Mike’s mother. 100% Lodi Appellation.”

You can find Cantara Cellar wines on their website, and any good wine purveyor.

We very much enjoyed our time with Mike and visiting Cantara Cellars Winery.  He was a gracious and generous host.  We will be back and we will be looking to buy more of his award winning creations in the very near future.   We would encourage you to do the same.

Time for a glass…

If you enjoyed reading this, check out Gainey Chardonnay, La Crema Chardonnay and Liberty School Chardonnay.

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  • Catarina Alexon

    Nice story about Mike and his wife, Susan. Sounds like a good wine and I really like the label they use.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Thanks Catarina, He is such a nice man and his wine is just as amazing as he is. I do hope that you will have a chance to try it when and if the opportunity presents itself. :-)

  • Jacqueline Gum

    Love the story! It’s always so interesting to see how people decide their life’s work and how closely that aligns to upbringing and/or passion. Like the label. But I’m not a big Chardonnay drinker. I’ll look for the others, however.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Jacqueline, I am not normally a Chardonay drinker but this one is pretty darn amazing. So are the others for that matter. Enjoy. :-)

  • Jon Jefferson

    Life came full circle for them it seems. Does the family still own the vineyard he grew up on?

    • Susan P. Cooper

      I did with Mike and his wife and I am so glad it did Jon. To answer your question. Yes they do. He actually buys grapes from his family’s vineyards to produce his amazing wine. :-)

  • TheGirl

    That’s pretty awesome to visit a winery (I think the closest around here is Connecticut). I’ve never done wine tasting, probably because I don’t drink alot of wine (until I discovered moscato) but would like to know the difference between the kinds of wine and why table wine is “bad” and others are good….

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi SC, Visiting wineries and getting to know the different kinds of wine is fun. I too love a good Moscato. Actually all wine is table wine. That said, table wine isn’t necessarily bad or good just different. It all gets down to how it produced and how it’s stored. :-)

      • TheGirl

        Ahh…but when folks say “good” wine or “bad” wine…maybe “cheap” wine (I never paid more than $20 for a bottle)?

        • Susan P. Cooper

          It all get down to individual taste. What one consider bad other with deem it good. For the record many of the wines I showcase are at or below $20. So go for it. :-)

  • Adrienne

    Don’t you love it when you meet new people and look what that ended up bringing you Susan. What a wonderful interview and story you shared. I think it would have been such an adventure to grow up on a winery! Oh well, we can live through them.


    • Susan P. Cooper

      How right you are Adrienne, You just never know how one thing can lead to another. It’s all about being out there and staying curious. I may not have grown up on a winery but I have the great advantage of living very close to so many. I do love that. :-)

  • Michele Harvey Author

    It sounds like all of you had a lovely day touring the winery. I have visited wineries in California and Europe and more recently in Chile and Argentina. Though not a fan of Chardonnay, I particularly enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Michele, Regardless of your taste, visiting and getting to know different wineries is really fun, especially in different locals. :-)

  • Cheryl Therrien

    Wow… what a great story! I enjoyed my exposure to wineries during my visit. I learned so much!

    • Susan P. Cooper

      It was a cool story and really fun to tell Cheryl. It is an interesting world and It was fun sharing it with you my friend. :-)

  • HomeJobsbyMOM

    I love that the wine business is in his blood. It must of been so exciting to meet Mike.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      I do too Krystle. Mike was a real pleasure to meet. :-)

  • doreenpendgracs

    Hi, Susan. I love the sound of jasmine notes in a Chardonnay. Wish we’d had a chance to visit this winery, but there just wasn’t enough time! Thx for sharing your love and knowledge of wine country with us.

    • Susan P. Cooper

      I am not always a big fan of Chardonnay Doreen but Elizabeth and I loved this one. You right, we just ran out of time. :-) Ah, but there is always another time. :-)

  • Debra Yearwood

    This wine sounds amazing. I think I need to put a trip to California on my wish list, because this isn’t available here in Ontario. It doesn’t hurt that I’m such a huge fan of Californian wines either, so really, a win/win idea. :)

    • Susan P. Cooper

      I have to say, it is my very favorite Chardonnay. Ok, you need to plan a visit and spend it with me. We would have a blast tasting our way through many wine regions. :)))

  • Along Came Mary

    I need to make that trip up your way happen ;) This looks great! Love when a Chardonnay has apple notes.