Bill Brinton resides in Sonoma, but his roots are deep in the Midwest. Midwesterners are known for strong American values, respect for family and institutions, and the ability to create and recognize value in products. Bill is a direct descendent of a true pioneer, John Deere. His direct family was at the helm of Deere until its recent transition to a public company. Deere created the self-scouring steel plow, an invention that revolutionized the agricultural world. It is this spirit of innovation and tradition that Bill brings to the company he founded, Charles Creek Vineyard. Charles Creek is named after his son Charley and his grandfather, Charles Deere Wiman. Ten years prior to the start of Charles Creek Vineyard, Bill used this same dedication to create new and innovative beverages. In 1993, Bill, a graduate of the Columbia University MBA program, established a natural products and nutritional beverage firm, The Wiman Beverage Company. This company was sold to a larger firm in 2000. Bill enjoys vineyard selection and development, as well as the critical evaluation and blending of the juice from grapes into wine. The wines are styled to pair wonderfully with a wide variety of fresh foods, and his vision is to create wines that could be sold for $30 to $75 per bottle, but that provide an exceptional value in the $20 to $25 price range. Value and integrity are the cornerstone of Midwestern values, and the basis upon which Charles Creek Vineyard was founded.
For three-and-a-half years prior to Adelaida, Culton was assistant winemaker at the esteemed Calera Wine Company in San Benito County, working with Josh Jensen who is revered by his peers and wine aficionados for his complex and age-worthy Pinot Noirs. Jensen, whose winery and vineyards are near Hollister, is credited as "one of the leaders for the emergence of Pinot Noir," according to "The Connoisseurs' Handbook," written by Norman Roby and Charles E. Olken. Working at Calera is like studying at the University of Pinot Noir, if there was such a place, and not a bad place to be when you're an aspiring winemaker--until you're ready to graduate. "I was ready for total creative freedom," Culton admits. "Calera was a great place to learn, but the opportunity to work with HMR and Viking vineyards was irresistible." Culton's first career wasn't in the wine industry, but he became interested in wine in 1989 when a serendipitous visit to a winery changed the course of his life. A psychology graduate from Humboldt State University, his first career was in social services. The job sent him to the tiny town of Philo, near Mendocino, where he called on an old friend, Bob Nye, who was working at Scharffenberger Winery in Anderson Valley. Given a tour of the winery, famed for its excellent sparkling wines while under the direction of its founder John Scharffenberger, Culton was fascinated as he watched the bustling production scene in the wine cellar. Although he entertained the idea of changing careers, it wasn't until he and his wife Kathleen moved to Paso Robles in 1991 so she could attend Cal Poly, that Culton sought his first job at a winery. He worked his first harvest that Fall at Creston Manor, and from there moved to Wild Horse where he found owner Ken Volk a generous and willing mentor. Culton was given responsibility as cellar master at Wild Horse, which provided him the opportunity to work with Pinot Noir Volk purchased from the fabled HMR Vineyard. Convinced he'd made the right career move, Culton attended extension classes in enology at UC Davis. He returned to Mendocino where he became cellar master at Edmeades Winery, apioneer in Anderson Valley known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. His next move was to Oregon working at Willamette Valley Winery. One of the larger wineries in that state, they produce many varietals, but in Oregon, Pinot Noir reigns. Culton's experiences provided him with insight to the many faces of Pinot Noir, and earning him an enviable position at Calera. After 13 years of working with many styles and varietals, Culton clearly is happy to be back in Paso Robles among his old friends: "Where else can you call a potential competitor for help and pick each others brains when a problem occurs?" he asks. "When it comes time to do your own thing, you use a little of what you liked best at each winery to develop your style." Culton is making Adelaida a winery that connoisseurs are watching.