A New Acquisition of Old Vines

Andy Beckstoffer, a leading advocate for heritage vineyards in the Napa Valley – and the only grape grower to have been inducted into the California Vintners Hall of Fame – has purchased a portion of the legendary Bourn/Hayne Vineyard in St. Helena.

William Bowers Bourn Jr., generally considered to be the last “Bonanza King” in California with his gold and silver mines, purchased this property in 1874. He also built the Greystone Winery (which is now the home of the Culinary Institute of America), the historic Madrono home on Sulphur Springs Road in St. Helena, and the Filoli estate in Woodside, Calif.

Bourn’s sister, Maud, married William Alston Hayne II in 1899. This property stayed in the Bourn family, and then transferred to the Hayne family, from whom Beckstoffer purchased a portion.

“We are extremely honored and proud that the Hayne family would be willing to entrust this legendary vineyard to our family,” said Beckstoffer. “We intend that it will remain in our family as long as it did in theirs, or longer. We are delighted that we have been able to add this vineyard to our list of historically important vineyards in the Napa Valley. These old vineyards capture the best qualities and character of our valley, and it is critical that we preserve them.”

Beckstoffer has a track record of buying historic vineyards when others had little faith. Of the 11 vineyards that he owns in Napa Valley, six of them, including the internationally famous To Kalon vineyard, were purchased from wineries that were unwilling or unable to invest in the work necessary to make them top-quality producers.

After replanting the vines with the most modern methods, rootstocks and clones, Beckstoffer then took the production of these vineyards out of the “big master blend of corporate wineries” and sought multiple top-level winemakers to purchase the fruit.

These vineyards have now become a benchmark for fine wines in the United States. Of the top eight wines listed in the 2010 Wine Spectator California Cabernet issue, five came from fruit grown on Beckstoffer’s vineyards. Grapes from the Bourn/Hayne Vineyard have been used to produce the highly-praised Turley Napa Valley Petite Sirah.

“The world of ultra-premium Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is alive and well, and we intend to lead it wherever possible,” said Beckstoffer. “The vineyard will be farmed the way we farm all of our vineyards,” he added, “with ‘soft hands’ and site-specific techniques for each block, and with a focus on producing the best possible fruit in the Napa Valley.

“The future of the Napa Valley is all about making world-class wines. And to do that, you need world-class grapes. Our job is to grow the fruit for those wines.”

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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