The next year (1973) Chip bought the 285-acre Brignole Ranch in the Alexander Valley and studied winemaking and viticulture at UC Davis. The winery was built in 1978 and Chip produced his first wines there in 1982. His wines received instant acclaim from critics who characterized Lyeths' wines as Bordeaux-style blends.
In 1988, Chip teamed up with several other winemakers; including Bill Arbios, Lyeths' winemaker, who celebrated the Bordeaux tradition of blending varietals and created the Meritage Association. The philosophy is the blend must be created with only "noble" Bordeaux varieties – by creating standards, only high-quality wineries would produce Meritage labels; thus, elevating the status of blended wines.
The spirit of Chip Lyeth carries on with each vintage as a homage to the American ideal, as it was not popular in the early days to eliminate the varietal designation on the label; in fact, it was a revolutionary act at that time in the wine industry.
The same spirited character and quality exist today in our Lyeth Sonoma County and California Red Wine and Cabernet Sauvignon. Chip would be proud to see the results of his risk-taking still alive and well in the heart of California wine country.