Our Story

Our fascination with wine-grape growing began while we were living in South America. We lived in Ecuador for 38 years. During our life there we made the acquaintance of Don Angel Duran who, as a young man, was sent to Argentina by his patron Don Leonardo Maldonado, the owner of the Hacienda Oton in Yaruquí, Ecuador. He was sent to study vinifera grape cultivation and the techniques for making Pisco. The original project never started. However, Don Angel kept is dream alive along with several ancient vinifera vines of unknown variety.

Together we developed a vineyard using cuttings from his original plants. With the technical help of several faculty members of UC Davis (Professors Harold Olmo and Carol Meredith) we did DNA analysis of these vines and found that the main variety was Palomino which we developed into a fine light fruity white wine. We still own and operate Chaupi Estancia Winery a few miles south of the Equator at 8200 feet altitude. It is still an experimental vineyard with 32 different varieties of wine grapes in order to investigate which ones will develop into a profitable cultivation.

A series of photos showing three Denier-Handal bottles in a semi-formal table setting; a cluster of ripe cabernet grapes on the vine; and a smiling Richard Handal behind the counter at a wine tasting event.

Thanks to our frequent visits to UC Davis we made good friends and got to know Sonoma and Napa Counties. We eventually decided to purchase our first vineyard venture in the Alexander Valley of Northern Sonoma County. Later we started farming in The Dry Creek Valley north of Healdsburg where we grow exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel grapes.

Our wine making is a relatively recent venture. We are primarily grape growers selling our premium grapes to some of the best wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties with whom we have long standing relationships. One of these client-wineries in Wellington Vineyards in Glen Ellen owned by the Wellington family of Sonoma. Peter Wellington, owner-winemaker, produces several award-winning, vineyard specific Cabernet Sauvignons, including one from our Dry Creek vineyard. Wellington Vineyards also produces many other award winning white, red and fortified wines. Peter Wellington helped us develop and make our wines. We produce boutique lots of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon at the Wellington winery facility in Glen Ellen. Since the very first lots, our wines have won Gold and Silver medals at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair and the Riverside International Wine Competitions. We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish in our vineyards, our wines and especially with our friendship with the Wellington Vineyards winery.