Beringer Vineyards - Delight In The Old World Presence and Great Chardonnay
Part of Wine By Appointment Chardonnay Wineries Series
What's Their Story:
Say what you will about California, but it has always served as a mecca for budding winemakers dreaming of making a wine to rival all others. It's siren song has enticed some of the most talented to leave their homeland, family, and friends to pursue wine-making endeavors in the United States, particularly California.
The Berenger brothers were no exception. Facing an unstable wine market in their native Germany, with poor vintages and a worsening reputation of German wine, Jacob and his older brother Frederick gravitated towards California as it seemed to have a more favorable operating climate and fewer restrictions.
Berenger Winery was founded in 1875 and, before too long, was receiving kudos for its wines at international competitions worldwide. Jacob and his older brother Frederick were particularly resourceful in developing new technologies in the vineyard and cellar and developing a network to sell their wine, particularly on the East Coast. By 1880, the Beringer Winery was producing 175,000 gallons of wine.
The winery thrived through challenges and hardships. Due to their monetary successes, it was one of the few wineries to survive the phylloxera, the root-eating louse that destroyed millions of vineyards worldwide. Beringer Brothers Winery had been established as one of the largest in California by the start of the First World War.
With the passing of both Beringer brothers, Jacob's children assumed control of the winery. Prohibition, which proved financially deadly to many wineries, created a boon for the Beringer Winery because they were allowed to sell sacramental wine to churches. The family retained control of the winery until it was sold in 1971 to Nestle. Different corporations have since owned it, the latest being Treasury Wine Estates, which purchased it in 2011.
Why The Winery Made The Grade:
From a historical perspective, Beringer Winery is worth a visit. Beringer Winery is California's longest continually operating winery. Beginning in 1934, Beringer Winery began giving tours and gave birth to the billion-dollar wine tour business in Napa. Just walking the meticulously maintained grounds is an experience. And these people know how to throw a tour!
Beringer Winery, unfortunately, has taken a bit of a reputational hit in recent years with the advent of their white zinfandel. I find this wholly undeserved. Their wines repeatedly win award after award, and our tasting experience found them to be delightful. Remember that Beringer Winery is the only winery with a red and white wine declared #1 in America by Wine Spectator.
Beringer Winery offers many tasting experiences in various locations on the property. I would recommend a tasting at the Rhine House bar, Frederick Beringer's custom mansion built in 1884 and is the cornerstone of the winery.
Which Winery Visitor Type Would Love It :
I think all winery visitor types would enjoy spending time. The grounds are beautiful and give a glimpse of years-gone-by.
Casual Wine Drinkers
Address: 2000 Main Street St. Helena, CA 94574
Phone: (707) 257-5771
Hours: 10:AM to 5:00 PM Daily
As mentioned, Beringer Winery has numerous tasting experiences. Prices range from $20.00 for a Sip and Stroll tour of the grounds to $150.00 for a sit-down tasting of Beringer's library vintages. I'd recommend the "Taste of Beringer Tour" for $75.00, a food and wine pairing in the Rhine House if you can swing it.
Don't miss the next winery in this series: Black Kite Cellars
Or read all of the Chardonnay blogs in our new guide, Chardonnay Wineries of Sonoma and Napa.