Our Story Begins with...
The son of a Pennsylvania country doctor, Arnold Family patriarch Henry "Hap" Arnold became one of best known figures in the US and around the world. He had been on the cover of Time, Look, Colliers and many other magazines. Before becoming a Sonoma Valley rancher in 1946, Hap was a Five Star General and commander of the largest and most powerful Air Force the world will ever see. That story starts in April 1911, when he became one of the first two Army pilots trained by the Wright Brothers at their school in Dayton, Ohio By the late 1930s, Hap Arnold knew on a close personal level almost all the designers, manufacturers, researchers, and pioneer pilots in the flying game.
One of these was Donald Douglas Sr., a friend since 1917 and the top aeronautical designer of his generation. Doug's design, the Douglas World Cruiser, in 1924 completed the first around the world flight for the US Army establishing his company's reputation for reliable aircraft. By World War II, Douglas Aircraft became the world's leading aircraft company, best known today for their game changing DC-3. Douglas would build for the US Military as well, including thousands of C-47s, C-54s, attack planes and others into the jet age.
Doug's daughter Barbara would marry Hap's son Bruce Arnold in 1943.
Under Hap's leadership, the Air Force expanded to 2.5 million men and, at its peak, over 79,000 aircraft with worldwide operations. Now on a world stage as "the Boss" of the US Army Air Force, Hap Arnold would advise leaders including FDR and Winston Churchill.
His inner circle included famed woman aviator Jackie Cochran and Jimmy Doolittle, an Arnold Family friend since the 1920s. There wasn't much happening in aviation he did not have a hand in. In 1944 he received the rank of Five Star General of the Army, one of only nine men ever to achieve that level in the US Military. In 1949, Congress made him Five Star General of the Air Force making him the only man in history to have that 5 Star rank twice.
Hap and Bee Arnold ended up in Sonoma after Bee, in a 1943 visit, found a 40 acre ranch property the Arnolds dubbed "El Rancho Feliz", a play on Hap Arnold's famous nick name.
Bruce often visited them and fell in love with the Valley. Bruce Arnold was a World War II West Point graduate, who after 1947 moved over to the new US Air Force and spent his career in high technology, retiring as a Colonel in 1972.
n the mid 1980s, Bruce, Barbara and son Robert Arnold founded Chandelle Winery in Sonoma. Bruce's idea was to combine the adventure of flight with medal quality Sonoma wines. He remembered hearing the old flying term Chandelle around the house when a child and so chose it for the name of the winery. An encounter with an old artist friend started Chandelle's Spirit of Flight series of wine bottlings with aviation art labels.