Friends of Belden Barns:

Hello there!  Fall is upon us and here’s what we’ve been up to….

 

THE BIG NEWS

After five years, we have finally received our Sonoma County use permit to have a tasting room, creamery, and farmstead processing on our Belden Barns site!!!  We are also allowed to hold eight events annually, including our fall Grape Stomp, spring Wine Release and Cork Hunt, as well as other seasonal gatherings that highlight the best of our agricultural products, people, and site. 

Someone once told us, “If your wishes don’t scare you a little bit, they probably aren’t quite big enough.”  Well, with a little bit of fear and a ton of passion, here we go following our own advice to WISH BIG…..

We are embarking on a journey to create a special community and place for people to enjoy the magic of Sonoma wine country.  We will continue to reach for the stars and think outside of the box in our efforts to bring you best-in-class wines, amazing cheeses and unique farmstead goods.  While we care deeply about the products we are crafting, our greatest joy comes from building community and creating experiences that make people happy.  Belden Barns will not be a tasting room, but a tasting realm.  Our goal is to provide immersive experiences designed to enhance not only what you taste, but also how you taste and remember it.

As we eagerly study our most recent development plans and start dreaming up new wine club events, we are beyond grateful to have such a wonderfully supportive group of friends, family, and acquaintances joining us for the ride.

 

KEEPING SCORE

For those of you who like to stay in the loop about of our latest and greatest scores and reviews, Wine Enthusiast Magazine has just provided these scores for our most recent releases:

 

2015 Estate Grüner Veltliner                   92  Editor’s Choice

2015 Estate Grenache                              91

2015 Estate Chardonnay                         90

2014 Estate Syrah                                     91

2014 Estate Pinot Noir                              90

NV    Blanc de Noirs                                  90

 

A TASTE OF FRANCE

With one child about to enter Kindergarten and the knowledge that we would likely be in the midst of intensely developing the Belden Barns site over the next two years, we decided to make family travel a priority this year.  Our (possibly too) ambitious adventures exposed us to new wines and world renowned vineyards. 

We were lucky enough to get to the Southern Rhone this trip, a place we'd never had a chance to visit before.  Staying near the small village of Mazan, a half hour east of Avignon, we awoke each morning in the midst of vines with the peak of Mount Ventoux hiding the sun at first light.  There are entire books written about each of the areas we sampled, so we will keep comments brief:

Ventoux is a lesser-known appellation in the Southern Rhone, but produces some very nice wines, particularly for their value.  The tallest mountain in the area and geologically part of the Alps, Mount Ventoux is most famously known for hosting a Tour de France stage that punishingly ends at its peak.  In fact, one of the value wines we liked most on our entire trip was Tom And The Peleton- a Grenache/Syrah blend made by Mont Ventoux Vineyard in memory of Tom Simpson, who died on the mountain while racing in the Tour de France in 1967.

Chateauneuf du Pape is probably the most famous of the Southern Rhone appellations.  While this was the most anticipated wine region we planned to visit and an incredibly beautiful area with very unique terrior, we didn’t meet a wine or vineyard there that we completely fell for.  What we liked most about our visit there was sampling wines of producers that source grapes from the northern Rhone down to Chateauneuf.  Those wine portfolios highlighted the degree to which wines get more ripe and, in our eyes, lose some vitality as the geography heads south. 

Just north of Chateauneuf, and sometimes billed as its little sibling, our final (and favorite) stop in French wine country was Gigondas. Whereas the Chateauneuf’s can sometimes feel too big and flabby, we found the Gigandas producers and vintages we tasted were spectacular.  At the collective tasting room in the village of Gigondas, we were like kids in a candy store as we greedily sampled from many of the approximately 100 producers represented. Standouts were Domaine La Garrigue 2015 and Chateau De Saint Cosme 2015.  We were able to visit Saint Cosme and it was one of the better tastings we’ve ever experienced.  Very high quality of wines across the appellations of Cote Rotie down to Chateauneuf du Pape.  The staff was friendly and extremely knowledgeable.  And we were able to tour the surprisingly antiquated winery built upon an ancient Roman winery for which you can see the original fermentation locations carved into the bedrock. 

 

GET YOUR FARMSTEAD GOODS BEFORE THEY’RE GONE

Harvest is in full swing, and Jenny and Vince Trotter have been working their butts off to bring in an amazing bounty of produce.  Dry beans have been harvested and threshed, and corn has been picked and milled.  Bagged dry beans, polenta, and cornmeal disappear quickly.  You can purchase these delicious farmstead goods on our website for pickup only (no shipping) HERE

The Trotters have been experimenting with a broad variety of vegetables and fruits to see what will work best on the Belden Barns site.  We benefit greatly from being guinea pigs, taking on the very hard job of sampling these goods on the front lines.  Our most recent introduction was to a Cape Gooseberry called Schoenbrunn Gold.  Gooseberries are related to tomatoes and similar to ground cherries.  This version looks like a yellow cherry tomato encased in a papery leaf cape (a bit like a tomatillo).  Holy Cow, do they offer an amazing kaleidoscope of flavor!  A mix of tropical and savory notes, with a surprising coconut finish.  Their complexity and profile remind us of our Estate Sauvignon Blanc.  If you ever find these at a farmers market, grab them.  Our next task is to challenge our many talented chef friends to highlight these gems in a special dish.

 

HOT, HOT, HOT OFF THE PRESSES

The 2017 vintage has gone well for us: healthy grape yields, with fruit looking and tasting great.  After a very cool and steady start to the vintage, we experienced a historical heat spike over the Labor Day weekend.  With three days of temperatures well over 100, Sonoma (and the entire Bay Area) was uncharacteristically toasty.  We had picked some fruit for sparkling wine before this event, but the vast majority was still on the vine.  Not a situation for the weak of heart, we had to decide whether to pick those grapes that were on the cusp of ripeness or let them hang through a dry sauna.  Our approach at Belden Barns has been to produce the wines we like to drink (and that our customers now expect), at the expense of taking risks.  We’re happy to report that the vineyard came through the spell spectacularly, and that letting the heat pass proved to be the right decision.  Relief came in the form of a week filled with cool, fogy days.  We were particularly concerned with our Pinot Noir grapes and their thin skins, but they showed no negative signs after sparing with the sun.  To be sure, the heat spike of 2017 will be the marker of this vintage - it’s going to be fun to see how it will be reflected in our wines.

 

BETTER BY THE BARREL

We entered a barrel lot in the Sonoma County Barrel Auction for the first time this year.  This long-standing fundraising event auctions “one-of-a-kind” 5 to 20 case lots from Sonoma’s top vintners.  We chose to enter a select offering from our best 2015 barrel of Serendipity Block Pinot Noir.  This barrel was made from the “Free-Run” juice produced during the pressing process after fermentation.  Free-Run is the juice that drains off of the fermentation must before any pressure has been applied to squeeze juice from the skins and stems.  Free-Run juice can make a wine that has more freshness and purity of fruit.  Pressed juice will have more tannin, lower pH, and off color.  We usually blend each of these components when making our Belden Barns wines. 

Consumers, press, and trade professionals come in from all over the world to sample the special lots on offer in preview days before the auction.   While we were a little nervous that our new-kid-on-the-block status might prevent us from getting a bid, we were thrilled to find ourselves in the middle of a bidding war where the winner took our 5-case lot home for $5,000 ($83 per bottle)! 

Beyond raising money for a wonderful non-profit, the event was very meaningful in extending the reputation of Belden Barns wines to a broader group.  One of the bidders on our lot was Ian Cauble.  Those of you familiar with the documentary Somm may recognize Ian as one of the primary characters in the movie.  Since being featured in Somm, Ian has created a very successful business called SommSelect, which curates wines for his list of over 16,000 customers.  After tasting our Serendipity, Ian’s brow furrowed and after a couple of seconds he said “Wow, this is amazing – now tell me who in the heck you guys are.”

After learning a little bit more about us, Ian asked to try our entire lineup of wines, at which point he particularly connected with the Sauvignon Blanc.  One of the benefits of working with someone like Ian is that he can intimate wines with a broad knowledge of global benchmarks.  His explanation of our Sauvignon Blanc is full, flattering, and informative.  You can read it by clicking HERE

 

NEW SEASON, NEW SPOTS TO FIND US

Our recent placements highlight quality over quantity, and time spent cultivating efforts abroad that we hope to announce soon.  For now, the next time you’re at one of these wonderful Bay Area spots, feel free to Wish Big with a glass or bottle of Belden Barns

Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, San Francisco

Graton Resort and Casino, Sonoma

LiveFire Pizza, Napa

Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant, Napa

Shed, Healdsburg

 

NEW STATE OF THE UNION

We have recently expanded the states to which we can ship directly to your doorstep!  We have added:

Michigan                    Nebraska

Ohio                           Wyoming

 

If you live in one of these states, or have gift worthy friends/family that do, you can now have wine shipped to your/their residential doorstep!

 

And just to refresh your memory, we still ship to all the following states:

California                     Colorado

Connecticut                 Florida

Georgia                         Illinois

Massachusetts            Minnesota

Missouri                        New York

North Carolina             Texas

Virginia                          Washington

Washington DC

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME.....

We still have a number of weeks until our last fermentations of 2017 are put to bed in barrel.  Then we head into the holiday stretch, followed by bringing in the new year.  Those of you in our Wine Club will be receiving Fall/Winter shipment information shortly.  Those of you needing to stock up for gifts or celebrations, just drop us a line.

As always, please keep us in mind when you're heading up to wine country.  We love to host private tastings for six or more people, share our vision, give you tours of our site, and have you hang a wish on our (super powerful) Wishing Tree.  And for a real-time taste of what we're doing, follow our Instagram feed HERE

Cheers!

Lauren and Nate

 
Belden Barns
5561 Sonoma Mountain Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
415-577-8552

 

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