Santa Maria Valley AVA
The Bien Nacido Vineyard is also considered one of the premier Chardonnay vineyards in the entire world and has produced numerous Gold Medals and more high scores than can be counted.
Byron Winery was founded nearly four decades ago by iconic winemaker Ken Brown, one of the original winemakers that propelled Santa Barbara County into the ranks of top-class wine producing areas. Brown was champion of the Santa Maria Valley's rich soils and its potential as a world-class grape producing area and he was one of the pioneers in establishing the region on the national and world stage.
The initial 1984 crush produced around 7,600 cases and this first release proved to be an instant success.
Some six years later, Napa Valley giant Robert Mondavi Winery became impressed with Byron's record and approach to natural farming and purchased the entity with Ken Brown remaining as winemaker and general manager. This relationship lasted for nearly twenty years until Brown decided to pursue another winery project and left the company.
Byron Winery has hardly skipped a beat in the ensuing years. Numerous awards and plaudits for its wines have caused the winery to remain among the country's finest producers. In the case of fine Pinot Noirs and world-class Chardonnays, Byron has remained near the top of each category.
Winemaker Jonathan Nagy became the long-term voice of the company and his wines reached legendary status. Nagy and Byron Winery benefited from the fruit produced by a number of its contracted vineyards, the great Bien Nacido Vineyard for Chardonnays and the Nielson and John Sebaastiano Vineyards for Pinot Noirs. Sadly, Nagy recently left the company as COVID-19 conditions changed the landscape of many wine entities.
"We have had to rethink our marketing strategies during the past year," informed General Manager Denise Shurfelt, who joined the company two decades ago as winemaker and was promoted to her present position three years ago. "Because of its overall success and long-standing reputation, Byron has become a direct-to consumer operation and we sell out all of our production. Due to the present economic situation forced by the coronavirus, we are rethinking our marketing plan. Byron has a long-time loyal fan base who expect world-class wines and we certainly don't want to disappoint anyone."
Going forward, Shurfelt advised that winemaker Anna Cliffor, a UC Davis graduate with an extensive resume in both Napa Valley and Sonoma County will lead Byron Wines from this vintage forward. Clifford lists her stints at highly respected Atlas Peak Winery and venerable Buena Vista Winery among others during her career.
"We will probably produce somewhere around 500 cases this year to fulfill our needs and then see what happens once the economy rights itself," Shurfelt continued. "Right now, Byron Winery will continue to feature wines made solely from fruit grown in the Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills, where its history and success began. So many wineries have been forced to revisit their marketing strategies, it will be interesting to see just how everything evolves in the future."
In many ways, this Byron 2016 John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir is a mini treasure itself. The wine was made by Jonathan Nagy and bears his remarkable stamp and character. The John Sebastiano Vineyard is one of Sta. Rita Hills' newest and most exciting plantings producing exceptional fruit along the eastern border of the AVA.
It is with great pleasure that we offer our Pinot Noir Wine Club members this very special Pinot Noir from Byron Winery. Rarities such as this are not always available to the general public and we take pride in offering this matchless wine for your enjoyment. Cheers!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members
I’m excited for you to try the 2017 Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay. This famed vineyard is located just 3 miles west of Byron winery and is home to some of the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes in Santa Barbara County. In fact, Matt Kettmann of Wine Enthusiast included Bien Nacido Vineyard in their California Grand Cru Chardonnays article in August of 2016. In the article, Matt includes a bit of history: “Considered the ‘most vineyard-designated vineyard in the world,’ Bien Nacido rose to acclaim on the backs of such winemakers as Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, Adam Tolmach of The Ojai Vineyard, and Bob Lindquist of Qupé.”
As for the 2017 vintage, it started with an average budbreak in Santa Maria and Sta. Rita Hills as a majority of vineyards began to bud by mid to late February. The spring and summer temperatures were average and we did not have any frost issues. Bloom provided an ideal fruit set producing countless small clusters and berries - the perfect scenario for world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay! In light of the above noted factors, the timing of harvest aligned with the previous three years. Pinot Noir from Santa Maria ripened at the beginning of September while Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills achieved maturity by the end of September. Chardonnay was harvested towards the end of September and the beginning of October across both AVA’s.
Overall, it is another superb vintage for Santa Barbara County. Each vineyard designate expresses beautiful aromatics and flavors unique to its location within Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills. The concentrated Chardonnays are contrasted by a bright acidity providing focus and length. The 2017 vintage is approachable upon release, but will blossom after 3-5 years of bottle age and continue to age gracefully thereafter. Enjoy!