For the past 34 years, 1,500 investors have gathered on a remote mountaintop above California’s Salinas Valley to convene the annual shareholders’ meeting of the Chalone Wine Group—whose business the attendees take very seriously. Wine from the publicly traded company’s various estates (among them Acacia, Sagelands, Moon Mountain, Provenance, Château Duhart-Milon, and, of course, Chalone) flows freely, and the cuisine, which is served under billowing white canopies, is top drawer and has included suckling pig smoked over apple wood; roasted chicken marinated in cinnamon, cloves, and mace; or fresh Hog Island oysters on the half shell.
The red-carpet event at the flagship Chalone Vineyard (which is known for its Burgundian-style wines) enables shareholders to sample upcoming releases from the corporation’s estates in California, Washington state, and France. Limited to owners of 100 shares or more, the shareholders’ “celebration,” as it is styled, includes musical performances and a silent auction of one-of-a-kind wines to benefit the Woodward/Graff Wine Foundation, first organized in memory of Dick Graff, Chalone’s cofounder, to offer scholarships to students pursuing careers in food and wine. Last year, Baron Eric de Rothschild, who owns 47 percent of Chalone, donated a six-liter bottle of 1998 Château Lafite-Rothschild and a luncheon hosted by himself at his Château Lafite; the lots sold for $3,500 and $8,000, respectively.
The 2003 celebration takes place on May 17. Interested shareholders should contact Chalone Wine Group at 707.254.4250.