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Meet Challen Cates of Challen Winery in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Challen Cates.

Challen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My father was a winemaker and had a successful winery for about 20 years. I loved spending time with him at the winery and in the vineyards. I’ve been working in LA as an actress for over 20 years and going to the winery with my dad was sort of my escape from the entertainment business. It was so therapeutic to spend time with my family around the grapes. I didn’t even realize how much I loved it until my father left the wine business. I was coming off of a 4 year run on a tv show at the same time that my father stopped making wine and I got really depressed. These two things that I loved doing were both gone and it felt awful. So, I picked myself up and called my father and told him that I wanted to keep making wine. We discussed which vineyards    I should approach and which barrels to acquire and I started the process of creating my own winery. I was very fortunate to have my father as a consultant, to give me advice as I embarked on this new journey into the winery world. And now, that my father has passed away, I am grateful to be able to honor his legacy. I have two children of my own and they love spending time at the winery and visiting local LA restaurants who carry our wines.

Has it been a smooth road?
Ha! Is it ever? This has been an incredible journey with a steep learning curve. There is so much to know about wine. It’s really endless so I will never stop growing and learning. Some of the struggles for me have been learning to let go of the things that I cannot control. When my father passed away last year, I didn’t know how I would be able to get through harvest without his advice. I had a wonderful group of friends and family who encouraged me to keep going and to trust that my father had left me with the knowledge and experience that I needed to keep growing the winery. There are so many parallels between making a film and making wine and I feel like the same lesson applies on the acting side as well. All of the hard work really does pay off but you need to trust and have faith.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Well, Challen Winery is a boutique winery, established in 2012, that specializes in vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We source fruit from some of the best vineyards in California and the world. Over the past 7 years we have grown to about 1500 cases per year. I am proud to be continuing my father’s legacy in the pursuit of creating world-class Pinot Noir. You can find our wines in some of LA’s most spectacular restaurants. One of the wines I’m very proud of is our custom Syrah that we created for Musso and Frank Grill.  I love that we tied together our passion for wine and our love of Hollywood.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I love Los Angeles! LA is vibrant and interesting and diverse and exciting. There is so much culture and history here that often gets overlooked. I love that Vine Street is called Vine because it literally used to have grapevines! Los Angelenos and LA restaurants have been very welcoming to us as a local wine producer. The majority of LA restaurants are very supportive of local wineries and local fruit, as is goes in hand with the movement towards more farm to table. Los Angeles is my home but my heart is often in the vineyard.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.challenwinery.com
  • Phone: 323-879-8081
  • Email: info@challenwinery.com
  • Instagram: @challenwinery  and @challencates
  • Facebook: @challenwinery and @challencates
  • Twitter: @challenwinery and @challencates

Image Credit:
Vincent Versace, Bobby Quillard, Robert Elliott

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