Les Lunes Wine
Not Drinking Poison: California - Shaunt Oungoulian of Les Lunes / Populis Wine, Orinda
SevenFifty Daily: The Wine Mavericks that Heralded a New Generation at U.C. Davis
The Vinguard: Califermenters: Les Lunes / Populis
Instagram: @lesluneswine, @diego_roig
At Les Lunes Wine they lease vineyards and work the vines. Their goal is to grow wines that pay respect to the great wines of California’s past, before money, ego and points got in the way.
Shaunt Oungoulian and Diego Roig do very little in the cellar because they spend most of their time in the vineyards. Proper pruning, precise suckering, well-timed treatments and thoughtful weed management minimizes the pesticide inputs in the vineyards. Preservation of the indigenous microbes on the grapes and in the soils is very important; it leads to healthier and more complex wines that don’t need adjusting or stabilizing in the cellar.
About the Owners
Shaunt Oungoulian: Shaunt is a Berkeley trained chemist who found his calling working at a small winery in the Anderson Valley. During Shaunt Oungoulian's first vintage working in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, he observed and reflected upon the innumerable biological and chemical processes occurring within each tank, barrel, bottle, and glass and was drawn into the world of wine. In order to deepen his understanding of this churning world beneath the surface, Shaunt decided to enroll in UC Davis’s Viticulture and Enology program. While studying UC Davis, a few classmates introduced him to a number of ‘natural’ wines that had a huge influence on his tastes and goals as a winemaker. Shaunt began to contextualize his research and coursework through a non-interventionist lens and found this approach to be much more intellectually satisfying and fulfilling. After graduating Davis, Shaunt left for France to pursue this reductive style of winemaking with various apprenticeships. He was fortunate to work under Philippe Valette in Mâcon and Julie Balagny in Fleurie. Both of these vignerons are extremely technically knowledgeable, but remain fiercely non-interventionist in their cellars and vineyards. They demonstrated to him that in order to make truly expressive wines, one must be able to embrace tradition and innovation at once, a lesson that continues to guide Shaunt's winemaking/winegrowing philosophy to this day.
Diego Roig: Diego was practically born with a glass of wine in his hands. Raised in California by a family of grape growers and winemakers (with roots dating prior to Prohibition), it was not uncommon to hear him ask for wine (watered back, of course!) at the dinner table. His parents regularly obliged and a career in the wine industry was born. Fast forward to now, and he has had the opportunity to learn from Bob Cabral (Williams-Selyem), Vanessa Wong (Peay Vineyards), Andy Walker (UC Davis), Kevin Fontaine (Charles Joguet, Chinon, France), Colin Ross (Seresin, Marlborough, NZ), Didier Barral (Domaine Léon Barral, Faugères, France), Giusto Occhipinti (COS, Sicily) and Philippe Valette (Domaine Valette, Macon, Burgundy), among others. These experiences and countless days spent tending vineyards and tasting wines from all over the world (this time, sans water) have helped shape his belief that the best wines come from soils and vineyards farmed without synthetic chemicals and with the utmost respect paid to nature. Furthermore, grapes grown in these vineyards have no need for commercial yeast strains or chemical additives to manipulate flavor other than the smallest amount of sulfur to protect them during bottling, ensuring the truest expression of place and time.