Food & Drink

Sustainable Farming and Winemaking at the Beringer Vineyards

Beringer Vineyards farms over 1,600 acres across California, including some of the most prized appellations in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Pasa Robles.
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As one of the handfuls of California wineries to survive U.S. Prohibition, Beringer is not only one of the oldest vineyards in the in the United States, it also happens to be one of its longest continuously operating wineries. Established in St. Helena in 1876 by brothers Jacob and Frederick Beringer, who arrived from Germany via New York with the dream of making wines that would rival Europe’s finest, the company has been in the wine producing business for over 140 years and remains one of the region’s most relevant winemakers, putting forward some of Napa Valley’s most sought-after wines. Today, Beringer Vineyards is owned by Treasury Wine Estates and farms over 1,600 acres across California, including some of the most prized appellations in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Pasa Robles, as well as in the northern areas of the state like Mendocino and Lake County.


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The Beringer Vineyards

Fifth-generation chief winemaker Mark Beringer, Jacob’s great, great-grandson, is now responsible for guiding Beringer’s robust portfolio that includes an extensive range of varietal offerings such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and Bordeaux-style blends across six value platforms: Private Reserve, Single Vineyards, Distinction Series, Regional Estate, Founder’s Estate, and Main and Vine.

The winery engaged in sustainable farming and winemaking long before it became fashionable to do so. “While not certified as an organic winemaker, we grow in the most sustainable greenway that we can,” continues Beringer. “We just don’t use it as a marketing tool. We want our practices to mean more for the environment than some organic statement. We want to do things in the right way.”


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Mark Beringer

All of its owned and leased vineyards are certified sustainable and it supports third-party growers with the tools and resources to achieve the highest level of sustainable farming.

At the very top end of the Beringer portfolio are the noted Private Reserve cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay wines. First introduced by winemakers Myron Nightingale and Ed Sbragia in 1977, the idea was to showcase Napa’s very best cabernet sauvignon. A chardonnay was crafted a year later with the 1978 vintage. Since then, this series has become of the most important wines coming from both the St. Helena and Napa Valley AVAs, or America Viticultural Areas specified for wine grape growing in the U.S.


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The Rhine House at fall

While the chardonnay grapes for the Private Reserve wine may come from a single vineyard, the cabernet sauvignon fruit is selected from seven plots of land that stretch across Howell Mountain, Spring Mountain, Mt. Veeder, and St. Helena. The grapes are then blended together to make the Private Reserve cabernet sauvignon wine. In special vintages, however, and when conditions allow, Beringer also produces single vineyard bottlings from these same seven vineyards, each delivering unique fruit and serving as the best expression of its terroir and vintage. Production for these wines is extremely rare and limited, and are therefore only available through the Beringer wine club and at the estate’s shops. “While single vineyard wines have their place, we feel we can do so much more through blending and can achieve a much higher level for our Private Reserve wine,” explains Beringer. “Each vineyard has its own character, but when blended, the wine becomes something much bigger than the sum of its parts.”

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In the Beringer hierarchy, the Distinction Series sits right below the Private Reserve tier. Included in this range are the full-bodied Quantum Red Blend, Bancroft Ranch merlot, Knights Valley Reserve cabernet sauvignon, and the creamy Luminus Chardonnay. The Quantum Red Blend allows the winemaker a venue for creative winemaking and the opportunity to showcase the house style.

Another favorite in this series is the Knights Valley Reserve. After working in this renowned AVA in Sonoma county for over two decades, the winemakers have come to know where the finest, most prized blocks of fruit grow, and through this wine, they are able to offer the purest expression of the Knights Valley terroir.

 

Beringer’s Tasting Notes:

Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2013

“From the Gamble Ranch in Oakville, this classy, polished and restrained 2013 is a wine of finesse. Amazingly sophisticated, it has all the tools to go the distance. Rich yet refined, the wine exhibits brilliant ripe core fruit and creamy flavors that are layered, lush. Lots to love now and more to love with bottle age.”

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Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

“Built from completely different sources, 66 percent of the fruit came from the St. Helena Home Ranch, 18 percent from the Chabot vineyard, and the rest from the Beringer estates in St. Helena, Rutherford, and Coombsville. It is 14.6 percent natural alcohol and has been touted among the best Beringer Private Reserves along with 2007, 2005, 2002, 2002, and 2001.”

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The Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon

Beringer Distinction Series, Quantum Red Blend 2013

“Full of dark cherry, espresso, tobacco, and other leather aromas, there are notes of ripe plum, vanilla, and blackberry jam that are accentuated by a hint of age and savory brown spice. It is a fleshy, distinctive wine with silken tannins and a lush, round profile.”

Happy Living, JMS Building, 1375 P. Ocampo Sr. Avenue, Makati; 895.6507.

 

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Alicia Colby Sy
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