It wasn’t inevitable that Max Thieriot would become a winemaker—but it was in his DNA. When he was a baby in 1989, his father, Cameron, planted some of the first Chardonnay vines in California’s now esteemed Sonoma coast. “Everybody told him, ‘Hey, you’re too far out on the Sonoma coast to grow Chardonnay—it’s too cold here; it’ll never work,” says Thieriot. “My dad basically said, ‘Well, screw you. I like to drink Chardonnay, so I’m going to plant it. If it doesn’t work, then so be it.’ Eventually he proved them all wrong, and B.A. Thieriot is now one of the, if not the, premier Chardonnay vineyards on the west Sonoma coast.”
Thieriot loved playing in those vineyards near the town of Occidental as he grew up, but his passion for acting eventually took him away from wine country and south to Hollywood. “I was always outdoorsy, but as a kid I just liked sitting on the tractor with my dad,” says the 32-year-old. “I honestly had no idea that I’d end up having anything to do with the wine industry.” His acting career was already in full swing when a visit north in 2010 sparked a conversation with childhood friend Christopher Strieter. “Chris and I are both real entrepreneurs, and we realized we’d both been thinking about winemaking,” says Thieriot. The two teamed with Myles Lawrence-Briggs, their pal since kindergarten whose parents own a local vineyard, and Senses Winery was born. Thieriot says the name, brainstormed with wife Lexi (over wine), is an homage to the sense-piquing capabilities of vino. “Wine to me is such a sensational experience,” he explains. “You don’t just taste wine—you smell it; you see what it looks like. So many senses are stimulated.”
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