Introducing our Talented Crew at Au Bon Climat Winery!

At Au Bon Climat, we’re more than just a team – we’re a passionate family dedicated to crafting exceptional wines in beautiful Santa Barbara County. Let us introduce you to the individuals behind the scenes, each contributing their unique expertise and love for the art of winemaking.

The Next Generation

Isabelle Clendenen at Au Bon Climat Winery

Isabelle Clendenen

Owner

As an ambassador for Au Bon Climat, Isabelle fills the spokesperson role of her father. She officially joined ABC in 2015 and utilized her study of Japanese to present wines and translate for her father extensively in Japan. With experience in the tasting room and wine production, Isabelle is deeply involved in ABC’s future. Among her various jobs in the industry, she is most fond of educating others about the wines and food pairings at ABC. A big fan of karaoke, Isabelle also loves to travel and enjoys the company of her beautiful cat, Toast.

Knox Alexander Clendenen at Au Bon Climat Winery

Knox Alexander Clendenen

Owner

Growing up at his father’s winery, Knox has developed a keen interest in all things wine related. From an early age he was hands-on in the vineyard sorting grapes, learning from both his mother and father about the ins and outs of the wine world. For university, Knox studied for 3 and a half years at Temple University Japan Campus with a major in Journalism, Public Speaking, and Audio Production. Now that he is a young adult, he is focused on the production side of the wine business, while occasionally traveling internationally to represent the brand. With his goal of traveling and learning new techniques and styles from wineries across the world, he seeks to continue his father’s legacy; an effort centralized on making wine that expresses balance, complexity, and restraint.

Isabelle Clendenen & Knox Alexander Clendenen at Au Bon Climat Winery

Production

Jim Adelman at Au Bon Climat Winery

Jim Adelman

Managing Member / Winemaker

Referred to as “Adelman,” not to be confused with the other Jim, he has been the day-to-day winemaker and overseer of all aspects of wine production at the winery since the early ‘90s. While Clendenen was on the road selling ABC wines and spreading the Gospel of cool climate Central Coast wines, Adelman was the constant presence and skilled winemaker who executed Clendenen’s vision. Without question, Adelman is responsible for the continued improvement and consistent quality of ABC’s wines. Adelman will continue to improve and advance ABC’s wines as well as lead the company. Blessed with a wonderful family, he is now learning to fish so he can sit in a boat and relax.

Marc Piro at Au Bon Climat Winery

Marc Piro

Winemaker

Marc was selected as the top recipient of a young winemaker scholarship created in memory of a close friend of Jim’s and secured an internship to work the harvest at Au Bon Climat. Marc came to ABC with great winery experience after traveling and working numerous vintages around the world, including California, New Zealand, Argentina, and Australia. Marc stayed, proving to be a valuable member of our winemaking team, and was quickly promoted to Assistant Winemaker. When asked, Marc admits that harvest is his favorite time of year at the winery as he loves the smell of new fermentations. When not making wine for ABC or his own brand, Piro Wine Company, Marc can be found surfing, playing guitar, or spending time with his wife and two children.

Enrique Rodriguez at Au Bon Climat Winery

Enrique Rodriguez

Cellar Master

After emigrating from Mexico, a 16-year-old Enrique was hired by Jim Clendenen as his first employee. Enrique has literally done and seen it all in his 30+ years at the winery. As the Cellar Master, he oversees the movement, blending, and bottling of wine. However, Enrique’s role and impact on ABC are so much greater. His work ethic, attention to detail, and knowledge learned during his tenure at the winery have earned him Jim Clendenen’s absolute trust in caring for his wines. Enrique has also developed into a skilled cook and continues the tradition of world-famous winery lunches. His kind and generous nature makes him a favorite among the team and all the winery guests. His off-time is spent with his wonderful wife and three children.

Arturo Alvarez at Au Bon Climat Winery

Arturo Alvarez

Bottling Supervisor

One of the smartest members of the production crew, Art is vital in managing the presses and red fermentations during harvest. He is so good that by simply placing his hand on the tank, he knows where the wine is in the fermentation process. Art shares his knowledge by mentoring and training new harvest workers. ABC bottles a lot of different wines, including bottling for other brands made here, making the bottling process a logistical challenge. Luckily, Art makes it all work and ensures everything comes together both “on and in the bottle”. Art’s new passion is biking. This healthy habit has him riding all over Southern California, and he even shipped a bike home to Mexico.

Sarah Atwood at Au Bon Climat Winery

Sarah Atwood

Winemaker

Sarah grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and first became passionate about wine while studying in the Chianti region of Italy. She has since gained her Master’s degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis and worked at wineries in Sonoma, Napa, and Italy. Most recently, Sarah helped develop a treatment for Pierce’s Disease in grapevines before joining the ABC team. Sarah’s dog, Randall, loves coming to the winery and happily eats any food scraps left behind. On the weekends, Sarah enjoys brewing beer, gardening, and taking Randall on hikes.

The Real Winemakers

2023 Harvest Crew posing for a team photo in the Au Bon Climat and Clendenen Family Vineyards production area at the winery in Santa Maria
Making wine is a tremendous amount of work.

Fermenting the grapes, maintaining, and filling barrels, racking, blending and finally bottling the wine.  All of this is hard work and requires a level of expertise and experience in the production of high-quality wine.  Au Bon Climat is indebted to this hardworking team, many who have been with us for 15 to 20 years.  Their knowledge of where the wine is in its life cycle lets us know when there is an issue.  This group takes immense pride in the wines they make.  When you enjoy a bottle of Au Bon Climat wine, remember these are the people who really made it happen.

Geraldo Alvarez on the Au Bon Climat Wine Production Crew

Geraldo Alvarez

Javier Barriga Ortiz on the Au Bon Climat Wine Production Crew

Javier Barriga Ortiz

Santiago Escandon on the Au Bon Climat Wine Production Crew

Santiago Escandon

Enrique Gonzales on the Au Bon Climat Wine Production Crew

Enrique Gonzales

Miguel Gonzales on the Au Bon Climat Wine Production Crew

Miguel Gonzales

Luis Montano Aguilar on the Au Bon Climat Wine Production Crew

Luis Montano Aguilar

Antonio Ramos Cervantes on the Au Bon Climat Wine Production Crew

Antonio Ramos Cervantes

Sales & Direct-to-Consumer

Cher Engelstad - National Sales Manager at Au Bon Climat Winery

Cher Engelstad

National Sales Manager

Cher’s love of wine began in Texas where she had her first “wow” wine moment working in an exclusive restaurant in Dallas where she took her rent money to go in on a bottle of Chateau Lafite. That was all it took. A natural salesperson put in a role of selling a commodity she loved spurred a lifelong educational pursuit and love of wine and the business of wine. She was introduced to Au Bon Climat in Los Angeles where she was a wine director for a restaurant group and was enthralled with Jim Clendenen’s passion for Burgundian wines and the pursuit of perfection making them in Santa Barbara/Central Coast AVA. An animal lover and ex-competitive equestrian keep Cher busy with ethical treatment of animal initiatives when not enjoying her work, food and wine with her husband, friends and grown children.

Nicole Wasserman at Au Bon Climat Winery

Nicole Wasserman

Director, Direct-To-Consumer

Nicole is one part wine geek and one part hospitality expert, making her an excellent caretaker of ABC’s direct-to-consumer needs. Growing up on the Central Coast in a restaurant family, Nicole has always lived and breathed hospitality, and she says, “The wine industry chose me.” Her extensive experience in the tasting rooms has made her a treasure trove of knowledge about our heritage and wines. Her love of ABC is due to the wide breadth of Jim Clendenen’s winemaking and ABC’s never-ending growth in the wine industry. Naturally a foodie, she also focuses on maintaining wholesome health, mind, body, and spirit, with the occasional adventure somewhere in the world.

Wiktoria Marroquin at Au Bon Climat Winery

Wiktoria Marroquin

Tasting Room Manager

Wiktoria (pronounced Victoria) is new to Santa Barbara and California but certainly not new to California wine. She was born and raised in Poland and has worked throughout Europe. Wiktoria moved to Tuscany, worked for a small winery, and discovered her love for Sangiovese. When an opportunity to work at a Michelin star restaurant in Slovenia came up, Wiktoria decided to move. She traded the sun for the snow and learned everything there was to know about skin-contact white wines that Slovenia is famous for. Continuing her snowy journey, she spent the last five years in Iceland working as one of the few sommeliers in the country. Love brought her to California, and she now gets to call Santa Barbara and Au Bon Climat home.

Administrative

Michael Meluskey at Au Bon Climat Winery

Michael Meluskey

General Manager

Michael’s career began after college in the golf business, where he worked with legendary pros and bought and managed golf courses. However, wine was much more of a passion for him than golf. Capitalizing on a lifelong friendship, Michael joined Qupe and Au Bon Climat in 2001 as CFO. After 12 years, he left to manage an alcohol beverage compliance company and then worked for two wineries in the Pacific Northwest. Missing the culture of ABC’s winery, including the lunches where he was a backup cook, Michael returned to ABC in 2021. His goal is to bring the next generation into the business and manage the evolution of ABC’s future. An avid swimmer in both pool and open water, Michael is happiest on the beach in Santa Barbara or on Cape Cod each summer.

Randi Chavoya at Au Bon Climat Winery

Randi Chavoya

Controller

A lifetime resident of Santa Barbara County, Randi pursued her interest and love of wine by joining ABC in 2017. Despite the thankless job of logistics and compliance, Randi is deeply valued by staff and customers for keeping everything organized. Randi was always Jim’s “go-to” person for information, as she makes it all happen. When not camping with her family, Randi can be found coaching or refereeing on a sports field nearby.

The ABC Story

Experience the essence of Au Bon Climat, where wine becomes a journey of passion and discovery. Uncover the rich tapestry of our origins, delve into the captivating story behind our winery, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture that defines ABC. Unlock the rest of our story and unlock a world of extraordinary wines.

Jim Clendenen and Adam Tolmach harvesting grapes in the late 1980's