Vineyard Founder and CEO
Your first thought on meeting Chris Amen is, this is a woman who knows what she wants. And what she wants, always, is to be and create the best. Over the years Chris has brought this no-fail attitude to numerous successful businesses.
Somewhere, it must have always been written that she would come to own a vineyard. The first-born child of a large family, her father owned a chain of supermarkets, and was the Chairman of the Board of Unified Grocers for many years. Thus began Chris’s lifetime of experience in the area of food and wine. Chris also has a lifelong interest in healthy eating and organic gardening. Her own estate currently has a ¼-acre organic garden and orchard.
It was a small step to combining these interests into the development of a vineyard and the creation and bottling of fine wines. As with everything she does, she wanted her wine to be exceptional. She devoted herself to researching best practices in vineyard management so she could be involved in all of the creative decisions. She even found a special method of designing grape trellises that Vineyard Manager Herb Quady implemented with great success.
With her special talent for picking the best people to help her fulfill her vision, she pulled together the team she needed to develop the vineyard and process the grapes into fine wines. Even the bottle she designed, with its specialty glass and custom-etched label, is a work of art.
Chris named her wine Coventina after a Celtic water deity associated with abundance, renewal, new beginnings, purification, and gentle inspiration. Coventina also echoes the word “covenant,” and represents Chris’ covenant with the earth to always put forth her best efforts to bring nature’s bounty to perfection, as reflected in her extraordinary wines.
Susie Griess has been Chris Amen’s right-hand person since 1994, helping Chris with all her many business enterprises. Susie’s clear, linear mind enables her to realize all the aspects of a project that must be accomplished and how best to go about it. Chris claims she couldn’t do anything without Susie.
Susie and her husband moved to Southern Oregon from California where they enjoyed the wines of the Napa region. They hail from the San Joaquin Valley where vineyards are abundant. Susie’s exposure to these wines confirmed to her at an early age that good wines are of significant value to one’s soul. She is delighted to finally be involved in the wine-making process.
With regard to Coventina, everything goes through Susie. She runs the day-to-day operations of the business and has been instrumental in helping Chris make every major decision. She keeps all the paperwork on the wine’s organic certification, keeps up with the yearly inspections, and makes certain that all requirements are complied with.
Vineyard Operations Director
Lou Scaparo, owner of Valley Oaks Landscaping in Grants Pass, Oregon has taken care of all of Chris’ properties since 1997. Lou was instrumental in the development of the Coventina property. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the vineyard and manicuring the grounds
Lou works hand-in-glove with Applegate Vineyard Management owner Herb Quady to carry out the daily vineyard operations at Coventina. He and his team implement Chris’s vision – making sure things run smoothly. Lou sees to it that all organic processes are strictly followed. He loves to tell the story of a visit by the Tilth inspector who said he’d never seen such perfect paperwork, and he’d never seen a place maintained so well, not only meeting, but exceeding requirements.
Vineyard Manager and Vintner
(Founder of Applegate Vineyard Management and Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft)
Herb Quady was born into the winemaking business. His family has owned Quady Winery in California’s central valley since 1975 where he worked from an early age. Winemaking was always something he felt good about. In his experience, any time you asked someone to try your wine they greeted you with a smile, even if they didn’t like wine. He went to Fresno State and earned degrees in viticulture and oenology.
After moving up to the Rogue Valley he found a position at the Troon Vineyard where he became head vintner. Learning about the unique features of the area, he made some adjustments to the procedures he’d learned working in California. He developed his own philosophy of growing grapes and making wine which he follows in his own vineyard and winery, Quady North. He established Applegate Vineyard Management in 2006, Herb teamed up with Brian Gruber and Nichole Schulte to establish Barrel 42 – a custom crush facility serving vineyards across Southern Oregon.
(Associate Winemaker and Partner, Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft)
Brian Gruber’s love of wine and the process of making it drew him to spend five years creating and managing Walnut Grove Vineyards in Virginia. Brian then moved to Southern Oregon and met Herb Quady at Troon Vineyard where they both worked. Brian spent five years at Troon fulfilling a number of different roles including vineyard management, winemaking, production, and general management.
Brian co-founded Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft with Herb in 2014. The two men have similar philosophies of winemaking, and each brings a different set of skills and experience to a partnership that continues to expand the quality of the wines they produce.
Vintner (Assistant Winemaker and Partner, Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft)
Nichole Schulte started off in the field of wine law, but eventually worked her way into the field of wine itself. Her interest started when she studied wine law at the Université Jean Moulin in Lyon, France. She returned to the States to finish her law degree at Louisiana State University, and practiced law for several years. However, the pull of the wine brought her to Oregon in 2012. The unique terroir of Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley appealed to her because it reminded her of her beloved Rhône Valley.
Taking a position at Troon where Herb Quady and Brian Gruber worked, she turned her sharp mind to the study of the chemistry of winemaking, becoming an oenologist with a specialty in fermentation and laboratory testing. It was the next natural step to join with Herb and Brian as an Assistant Winemaker and co-founder of Barrel 42.