Winemaker Wells Guthrie

Founder & Winemaker

Wells Guthrie

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated towards France, and the Northern Rhône Valley, in particular. A Florida native, reared in Southern California, Guthrie launched his wine career in 1995 in Northern California as a wine tasting coordinator for the Wine Spectator. While there, he fell in love with Syrah and had a transformative experience tasting the first 1993 vintage of Littorai Wines, made in Anderson Valley by owner-winemaker Ted Lemon. 

Moved by these expressive wines and inspired by Lemon’s pioneering work in Anderson Valley, Guthrie decided to pursue his passion for wine by learning how it was made. He moved to France’s Rhône Valley in 1996, where he apprenticed for two years with legendary winemaker Michel Chapoutier at his winery. At the same time, he developed a close association with Rhône vintner Jean Louis Chave, the esteemed winemaker and owner of Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, one of France’s most respected wine estates. Guthrie credits both men and his experience in the region for providing the inspiration, education and influence that guides his winemaking today. 

Upon his return to the United States in 1998, Guthrie furthered his winemaking experience by joining Turley Wine Cellars as a cellar hand, working alongside winemaker Ehren Jordan. In 1999, the budding winemaker left Turley Wine Cellars keen to start his own label, while simultaneously working at Martinelli Winery with Helen Turley, where the influential winemaker was crafting her Marcassin wines. 

That same year, Guthrie founded Copain Wines, a winery firmly rooted in expressing the uniqueness of California, but deeply influenced by the traditions and practices of French winemaking. Since then, his meticulous selection and vinification of the best sustainably-farmed fruit from the cooler climate of Mendocino County and Anderson Valley has yielded elegant, balanced and food-friendly wines. In homage to Guthrie’s favorite Pinots from Burgundy and Syrahs from the Northern Rhône Valley, Copain’s classically-styled wines are crafted to age with integrity. Named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “10 Innovators”, Guthrie has been credited with leading a stylistic movement towards restrained power and grace.

Copain Wines

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