The Story of Sleeping Giant Winery

Meet Chris Dearden

Chris Dearden in wine production

Owner-Winemaker Chris Dearden found his first introduction to wine as many of us do: around the dinner table amongst family and friends. Raised in an agricultural town in the Central Valley of California, Dearden was always able to draw a correlation between the treatment of land and the quality of the product. He has carried this value and strong connection to farming throughout his career.

Chris attended UC Davis for his bachelors in science, writing his own major as Viticulture, Enology and Winery Operations; he would continue on to UC Berkeley Haas School of Business to earn his Masters in Business Administration. 

A philosophy of respect for the terroir

Over the years, Dearden has worn many hats, working his way from winemaker to winemaker/general manager, consulting winemaker to now achieving his lifelong goal of owning his own vineyard and winery. His aim is to work with vineyards and growers with a shared vision: nurture the lands we occupy to maximize quality and site specific terroir while nurturing the long term relationships between grower and winemaker.

Dearden cites his time working with cooperage Seguin Moreau as most influential on his winemaking style and abilities; working in tandem with first growths and grand crus allowed for an unobstructed view of the highest level of winemaking possible. 

Yearning to produce wine again, he began a fourteen-year journey developing a Napa Valley winery from the ground up. He established the vineyard, brand, wine style and identity. During this period, he also developed the North American branch of the highly respected Gamba Cooperage, Costa Del Sol Consulting Company, luxury wine brands Chanticleer and Sleeping Giant, and a premium Pinot noir vineyard estate in the Carneros district of Napa Valley, which is a cornerstone of Chris’s great wines today.

A new chapter in Carneros, Napa Valley

2010 marked the beginning of a new chapter for Chris when he established the Dearden Wines Portfolio which today includes flagship Sleeping Giant Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir and Chardonnay; Little Giant Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosato; Argus Pinot noir; One-Iron Red Blend; Two-Iron Cabernet Sauvignon; Three-Iron limited production Zinfandel; Train Wreck Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon blanc; and Costa del Sol Red Blend.

The cornerstone of the brand is Dearden’s Carneros vineyard property which houses Sleeping Giant Winery, is planted to five different clones of Pinot noir and a small amount of Chardonnay on an 11.6-acre parcel. The residence and a historic water tower were refurbished and are an outward sign of the Dearden family’s respect for the past and loyalty to the future. To round out the vineyard, residence and newly restored historic water tower, groundbreaking took place at the end of 2020 for the development of a boutique winery. The Dearden family invites you to share the experience of this beautiful setting with them. Chris lives in the beautiful Napa Valley where his two adult children, Sam and Addie also reside. The family lost Paige in 2020, however, she is always with them, inspiring and guiding them.

Paige Dearden - Dearden Wines