Ballard Canyon Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Please The Palate
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I first met Steve Beckmen of Beckmen Vineyards almost 20 years ago. He was one of the first people I heard speak about biodynamic farming. Twenty years later, we sat down and tasted his wines. The maturity of the vineyards and the passion of Steve come through in the balance and complexity of the wines and you can read my story that I wrote in the Napa Valley Register below her. When I first started in the wine business almost 20 years ago, I would take consumers on day trips from Los Angeles to the Santa Barbara wine country for a day of tasting and education. We would visit different wineries and the winemakers would meet with our group to share their stories.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register (January 15, 2016) Grenache is widely planted around the world. It is the second most widely planted grape in France, making up 60 percent of the acreage in the Rhone Valley and 70 percent of the acreage in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Planted in approximately 500,000 acres worldwide, grenache can be found in Spain, Italy and Australia, as well as in California. But in California, acreage has declined over the last 20 years from approximately 12,000 acres to approximately 6,500 acres today. Despite this reduction in acreage, grenache production and consumption is on the rise, according to a recent seminar with the Rhone Rangers. Grenache on the Rise American wine critic and author of the forthcoming American Rhone Wine Movement, Patrick Comiskey moderated a panel of winemakers from throughout California as a tasting and discussion was underway about the rise of grenache in California. “Despite being grown here more or less continuously for over 150 years, grenache’s range of flavors, its regional expression and its level of profundity are still a long way from being realized,” Comiskey said. “It may have more potential than any other Rhone variety currently grown in the U.S., so it’s time to have a look at the state of the grape.”
This article originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register (October 9, 2015). Ask any winemaker and they will tell you that wine is made in the vineyard. It is not possible to make good wine from bad grapes. And, vineyards are not stagnant, offering variety. So, whether you own a vineyard or purchase fruit from a grower, winemakers are very careful in selecting their vineyards. Case in point, Larner Vineyard, situated in Ballard Canyon in Santa Ynez. Larner Vineyard, Ballard Canyon Ballard Canyon is located between Santa Ynez Mountains, a transverse mountain range, to the south and the San Rafael Mountains, created by the San Andreas Fault, to the north. Ballard Canyon is in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley and is the home to 17 vineyards and six producers. The Pacific Ocean is 17 miles to the west and fog comes in and burns off by 11:30 a.m. By 12:30 p.m. there is a cool breeze from the Pacific Ocean. Specializing in Rhone varietals, Ballard Canyon became an AVA in October 2013. Of the 600 acres planted, 300 of the acres are planted to Syrah. Larner Vineyard was planted in 1999 by founding family members Stevan, Christine, Monica and Michael Larner. Sitting at an elevation of 500-680 feet above sea level, the property is a total of 134 acres with 34 acres planted and 30-40 acres still to plant. The varietals planted are Syrah (23 acres), grenache (6 acres), viognier (2.5 acres), mourvedre (2 acres) and malvasia bianca (1.4 acres). The Larner Vineyard has transitioned from sustainable to organic and is in the process of being certified.