In this installment we highlight a few of our clients who are leading the way in their areas of the wine and spirits industry. Deserving of the spotlight, these champions are leaders in their respective regions and categories, for their innovative methods, and for their long history in excelling at what they do. Let’s raise a glass to these inspiring stories!
Barton & Guestier – A fixture in French winemaking for three centuries
Leaders not only in Bordeaux, but across France, the Barton & Guestier name is known to millions worldwide. With almost three centuries of experience in winemaking, it is the oldest winehouse of Bordeaux and producer of the first French wines that reached American soil. The brand’s comprehensive portfolio includes a variety of wines from the main French winegrowing regions of Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Rhone Valley, Languedoc, Gascony, and Corsica. Thomas Barton left his native Ireland and emigrated to Bordeaux when he was 30 years old and founded his shipping company in 1725. In 1802, his grandson, Hugh Barton, teamed up with his friend Daniel Guestier, a French shipowner, and Barton & Guestier was born. American president Thomas Jefferson was one of the customers of the company.
Today, the B&G winemaking team works hand in hand with almost 200 wine grower partners to produce the most authentic wines. This close collaboration allows the growers to take advantage of the team’s expertise while nurturing mutual respect and a partnership mentality. Laurent Prada, Chief Winemaker, notes that it is “this strong relationship with our partners [that] greatly helps us create a range of true-to-type French wines which also offer the “cachet” of appealing to the US palate.
Hear Laurent Prada talk about another B&G wine, the Bistro Sauvignon Blanc.
Biltmore Winery – Pioneering North Carolina winemaking and across America
Biltmore Winery is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, N.C. on the grounds of an 8,000-acre estate owned by the descendants of Biltmore’s original founder, George W. Vanderbilt. The ~50 acres of vineyards sit at an altitude between 2,100 and 2,500 feet and are planted to grapes that have proven to do well in the state’s sometimes unpredictable climate. These are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and some Viognier and Petit Manseng.
Biltmore Winery opened in 1985 and Current Vice President and Head Winemaker Sharon Fenchak joined the Biltmore Wine team in 1999. Today she leads this storied portfolio into the future, maintaining strong partnerships with growers around the U.S. Recognizing that North Carolina is best suited to certain styles, Biltmore has established relationships with growers in other areas of the country to be able to offer a wider selection of the finest varietals and vintages. Regardless of where the grapes are grown, Sharon oversees every step of the winemaking process. In some cases. these wines bear the American Appellation, indicating that the fruit is grown on the west coast but the wine is finished and bottled at Biltmore Winery in Asheville, North Carolina.
Taste Biltmore’s expertise in North Carolina through the Biltmore Reserve Rosé, SRP $25
Here more from Sharon about Biltmore Winery and their sourcing program.
Graham Beck – Cap Classique Champions
Graham Beck is THE leader in Cap Classique wines in the United States, representing 95% of the category. This iconic brand of bottle fermented sparkling wines from South Africa is lauded among the world’s best values. It has been affectionately dubbed the “President’s Choice” — the Brut Non-Vintage was served at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 as well as President Barack Obama’s election night victory party in Chicago in 2008. The internal slogan, “the Graham Beck Way” refers not only to a meticulous attention to the details of grape growing and winemaking, but also to the value it places in putting people and the planet first.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of these beautiful wines, first produced in South Africa in 1971. Graham Beck has been on the forefront of Cap Classique production, leading a pioneering journey to innovate and constantly elevate the craft, consistently producing bottle fermented sparkling wines which rank among the best in the world. Join Cellarmaster Pieter Ferreira and Winemaker Pierre de Klerk as they celebrate 50 golden years of Cap Classique on August 31, 2021 with conversation and tasting. (Watch the YouTube recording of this tasting.)
Taste “the Graham Beck Way” through the Blanc de Blancs 2015, SRP $30
Listen to Pieter Ferreira give a master class on Graham Beck.
Hahn Family Wines — Defining the SLH for 40 years
A quarter century ago, Nicky Hahn had the foresight to rally his neighbors and spearhead the process of creating a defined appellation that could gain recognition from wine lovers and wine professionals alike. In 1991, Santa Lucia Highlands was granted AVA status. Today, Hahn Family Wines vineyards equal more than 650 acres in the SLH, one of the largest shares of planted vines in the region. Hahn Family Wines’ SLH vineyards — Lone Oak, Smith, Doctor’s, and Hook — are planted on a narrow bench at elevations ranging from 200 to 1,200 feet above sea level. Plentiful sun and well-drained soils along with a long and dry growing season result in wines with remarkable depth, complexity and lush fruit flavors.
For Hahn Family Wines, sustainability isn’t a trend or a passing fad. It’s a way of life. Everyone at Hahn Family Wines is committed to the idea that quality winemaking and sustainability go hand-on-hand. In 2008, Hahn Family Wines was one of the first wineries in the area to become certified sustainable under the Sustainability in Practice (or SIP) certification program. SIP’s pilot program required a rigorous three-year process that evaluated sustainability beyond the vineyards. It also ensures certified wineries care for their employees and community by holistically gauging three factors: Environmental Health, Social Equality and Economic Viability. Today, Hahn Estate operates as a 100% solar-powered winery.
Taste Hahn’s leadership in the Santa Lucia Highlands through their coveted Lucienne, small lot, single vineyard expressions of Chardonnay (SRP $40) and Pinot Noir (SRP $50)
Steenberg Vineyards – History of strong, female leadership in Constantia
Recognized as the oldest registered farm in South Africa, and situated in the historic Constantia Valley, Steenberg Vineyards produces some of the best Sauvignon Blanc wines in the country. It is also one of the top South African wine tourism destinations. The Steenberg story starts with its founder, Catharina Ras, who is among the most remarkable figures ever to settle in the western cape. Her personal history includes 5 husbands, most of whom met unfortunate ends; one was trampled by an elephant, one was mauled by a lion, and so forth. Despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges, this brave young woman persevered and became a landowner, receiving the title deed to the farm in 1682 and turning it into a thriving venture.
This history of strong female leadership at Steenberg continues under Cellarmaster Elunda Basson. She joined the team in June 2019 at the pinnacle of a long career, which includes crafting both still and sparkling wines. To complete the triumvirate, both the General Manager and Executive Chef are also women! Tying each woman’s contributions into one experience, Tryn, Steenberg’s signature restaurant brings Catharina’s narrative into the dining experience connecting the founder’s free spirit with fabulous food by Chef Kerry Kilpin, as well as GM Catherine Shulze’s design and management touches and, of course, Elunda Basson’s wines.
Taste Steenberg’s innovation through the Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, a bottle fermented version of this classic variety, SRP $18.
Learn more about the property today and hear Elunda talk about the Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc here.
St. George Spirits – Independent in spirit and in fact
St. George Spirits is a true American original, defining and propelling the art of distillation in the U.S. for the last 40 years. Today, the extensive St. George Spirits portfolio of gins, vodkas, whiskeys, liqueurs, brandies and eaux de vie stands apart for not only its excellence in every category but also its expression of creativity and an uncompromising point of view. The exacting standards and commitment to raw, fresh ingredients established by founder Jörg Rupf in 1982 form the foundations by which the distillery still operates. St. George’s family of spirits has grown over the decades, and the American craft distillation movement has grown with it. The more that the landscape has changed, the more important St. George’s philosophy has become: make amazing spirits, unlike anything else available on the market, with innovation, quality, and integrity.
Passionate about the art of distillation, master distiller Lance Winters and head distiller Dave Smith are dedicated to making the absolute best spirits they can through a process of experimentation, exploration, and discovery. Some experiments become part of the esteemed St. George Spirits portfolio, some find their way onto the shelves of St. George laboratory to inspire the next extraordinary expression, but through it all, Lance and Dave create spirits that are truly unique, unlike anything you will find on the market. “We think of distillation as a conversation. Those before us had something to say, and we want to add something to that conversation, never replicating, always innovating,” says Lance.
Taste their innovation in Baller Single Malt Whiskey (SRP $50)