About Beringer Vineyards

By Lisa Rowlands

The history of Beringer began in earnest nearly a century and a half ago, when (in 1875) German brothers Jacob and Frederick (Beringer) purchased close to ninety hectares of land in California’s now acclaimed Napa Valley sub-zone, thus laying the foundations for the internationally renowned winemaking organisation that we see today. Progress was swift - the brothers produced eighteen-thousand cases of wine from their very first harvest, and began a series of renovations and improvements with almost immediate effect including starting construction of the Rhine House (completed in 1884) - an ornate Victorian mansion, which has since become the centrepiece of the property. Neither the perils of Phylloxera or Prohibition could halt the Beringer bandwagon. In fact, the company - having been granted a license to produce wine for religious purposes - were able to continue operations between 1920 - 1933, when most other wineries were forced to abandon their vines and close their cellars.

The original vineyard of St. Helena, adjacent to the winery, continues to yield excellent fruits year on year. However, over time the estate has added numerous other prime plots to its portfolio - most of them within the Napa Valley AVA - with some reaching elevations of up to six-hundred metres above sea level. Each vineyard, on account of its location, altitude, soil composition and microclimate, offers its own unique terroir, and grape varieties are carefully matched to ensure ideal conditions for growth. As well as the principal varieties most synonymous with Californian wine - Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Beringer also produce wines from the Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel grapes, amongst others.

One of the most well known Beringer vineyards is at Knights Valley, some twenty-five kilometres north of the winery. The alluvial soil here is fine and well drained, and the wine - a Bordeaux style blend led by Cabernet Sauvignon - is an elegantly structured, plush cuvée with silky smooth tannins and exceptional potential to age. In the vineyards at Knights Valley, the dominant Cabernet variety is joined by other tradition Bordeaux grapes - Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and the composition of the wine varies in line with the specific conditions of each vintage.