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Influential Grapegrower Andy Beckstoffer Celebrates 50 Years of Napa Valley Success


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David and Andy Beckstoffer. Photograph courtesy of C. Milan Communications

Few have made a bigger influence on the evolution of Northern California’s wine {industry} than Andy Beckstoffer and the corporate he based in 1970 on the age of 30, Beckstoffer Vineyards. For 50 years, Beckstoffer and his Beckstoffer Vineyards have solid main shifts in the best way the wine {industry} values land, grapes, and farmers, and in doing so, he has helped Napa Valley and California to seek out their spot on the worldwide wine stage. 

Beckstoffer’s ever-growing portfolio of premium winery websites constantly produces the best high quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Northern California. The corporate, now helmed by each Andy and his eldest son David, continues to play the function of {industry} chief, specializing in technology-driven, precision farming, with an unwavering give attention to land conservation and agricultural sensitivity, and sustainability.

Shaping the Napa Valley

Beckstoffer has performed a pivotal, pioneering function in Napa Valley’s evolution right into a world-class wine area. After three years working because the Director of Company Acquisition Methods at Heublein Inc., the place he suggested the corporate on coming into California’s premium wine section, he moved his household to California and based Beckstoffer Vineyards in 1970. During the last 50 years, Beckstoffer Vineyards has invested in distinctive winery holdings all through Napa, Mendocino, and Lake Counties, totaling roughly 4,000 acres. This consists of the corporate’s six Heritage Vineyards in Napa Valley, which produce a number of the most sought-after grapes in all of California wine nation, if not the world. Winery-designated wines that includes a Beckstoffer winery on their label repeatedly rating 95+ factors and above. 

Andy Beckstoffer. Photograph courtesy of C. Milan Communications

However past his spectacular winery portfolio, certainly one of Beckstoffer’s most notable {industry} contributions was the initiation of a brand new grape pricing construction in 1976, which created a significant and lasting shift in how the California wine {industry} views the significance of wine growers and grape high quality.

Preservation and sustainability efforts have been a steady theme all through Beckstoffer’s profession. He was instrumental within the forming of The Napa Valley Grapegrowers Association in 1975, for which he was a founding director and its second president. The Grapegrowers’ mission was to maintain grape rising within the Napa Valley, and in 1990, Beckstoffer additionally performed a significant function in Napa County’s institution of the Vineyard Definition Ordinance(WDO), which caused key measures for preserving agriculture in Napa Valley and required that wines from new wineries and expansions of current wineries a lot be produced from not less than 75 p.c of grapes from the Napa Valley. “Napa wineries ought to make Napa wines,” declared Beckstoffer.

In 1994, he was the founding director and first president of the Rutherford Dust Society, which is devoted to selling the best high quality grape rising and winemaking requirements within the Rutherford AVA. Beneath his management in 2002, the Rutherford Mud Society initiated the Rutherford Attain Restoration Undertaking whose aim has been to revive the 4.5 miles Rutherford Attain of the Napa River as a way to rehabilitate the native riparian and aquatic habitats. The undertaking has acquired nationwide acclaim. As we speak, Beckstoffer Vineyards focuses its preservation efforts on local weather change, and in 2019 launched a multi-year analysis examine devoted to the survival of Cabernet Sauvignon as Napa Valley’s prized grape. 

Bringing Grape Growers to the Desk

When Beckstoffer began his farming enterprise in Napa Valley, grapes have been a commodity. The perfect wines have been credited to the expertise of the winemaker, not the standard of the fruit, and thus the work of the grape grower was, in his opinion, extraordinarily undervalued (and underpaid).

However in 1976, all of that modified when Beckstoffer launched an unorthodox pricing construction tying the worth of grapes to the retail value of the bottle. The costlier the bottle, the extra Beckstoffer charged for his premium fruit. This small step triggered a whole transformation throughout the Napa Valley wine {industry} with grapes seen because the driving power of high quality within the bottle.

Within the 1980s and 1990s, this newfound respect for the land enabled Beckstoffer to efficiently advocate for vineyard-designated wines as the most effective expression of wine produced from a single winery supply. This led to an industry-wide motion that every winery website has a novel character, or terroir, that must be individually celebrated, somewhat than blended. This has fully reworked how Napa wines are marketed and bought, transferring from the Bordeaux mannequin of a vineyard having Reserve and common bottlings, to the winery designated method that has made wines from Burgundy so sought-after.


Andy and David Beckstoffer. Photograph courtesy of C. Milan Communications

Napa’s First Development Vineyards — The Heritage Vineyards

Beckstoffer’s most famed vineyards are the corporate’s six Napa Valley Heritage Vineyards, which have an unparalleled mixture of historical past and a capability to develop distinctive fruit. These vineyards every have a novel and extraordinary terroir that has confirmed to provide the best high quality of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes 12 months after 12 months for generations, and in some instances, centuries.

In 1983, Beckstoffer Vineyards bought its first heritage winery, Las Piedras in St. Helena. Later got here To Kalon (arguably probably the most well-known American winery), Georges III, Missouri Hopper, Dr. Crane, and Bourn. Beckstoffer sells this fruit to a rigorously chosen group of winemakers who collectively produce greater than 50 vineyard-designated wines that originate completely from a Beckstoffer Heritage Winery. These wines are constantly awarded 95+ scores and different accolades, and thus, having ‘Beckstoffer Vineyards’ printed on one’s label is totally invaluable. ‘Beckstoffer’ has change into a extremely valued, and properly marketed, Napa model in its personal proper. The wineries with which Beckstoffer Vineyards works are in a position to develop and construct widespread notoriety not simply on their model title or winemaker, however on the prized land from which they’re sourced.

Past Napa

Beckstoffer Vineyards has lengthy been invested in two Northern California wine areas exterior of Napa Valley, which Beckstoffer believes may produce world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. He made his first winery buy in Mendocino in 1974 and within the Crimson Hills of Lake County in 1997.

Over the previous twenty years, Beckstoffer Vineyards has been steadfastly dedicated to proving that the Crimson Hills can produce ultra-premium Cabernet rivaling the most effective that California has to supply. He acknowledges the identical potential within the Crimson Hills that Napa had within the 1960s and was instrumental in establishing the official Crimson Hills AVA in 2004 with a crew of growers. Positioned within the northern Mayacamas Mountains on the southwest fringe of Clear Lake, excessive elevation plantings, terrific solar publicity, low humidity and a temperate local weather creates an ideal rising season within the Crimson Hills, leading to brilliant, balanced wines with complicated taste.

As of 2020, Beckstoffer Vineyards owns greater than 2,000 acres within the Crimson Hills of Lake County and greater than 1,300 acres in Mendocino.

The Future 

Because the California wine {industry} braces itself for local weather change, in 2019 Beckstoffer Vineyards proactively partnered with the College of California and Duarte Nursery to launch a groundbreaking analysis examine titled Local weather-smart Options for Cabernet Sauvignon Manufacturing.’ Fearing that Cabernet Sauvignon might not be viable sooner or later, many growers and vintners are beginning to experiment with various and less-profitable grape varieties, but Beckstoffer is dedicated to not solely preserving but in addition bettering the standard of the grape that put Northern California wine on the map.

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