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30th Harvest Anniversary: 30 Questions with Steve Beckmen

Posted: Sep 14, 2023

We’re gear­ing up for a grand cel­e­bra­tion this month: 30 remark­able harvests! 

As we pre­pare to pop the corks on this spe­cial anniver­sary, we want­ed to sit down with our wine­mak­er, Steve Beck­men, and reflect on three decades of wine­mak­ing by answer­ing 30 quick ques­tions. Here’s our Beck­men sto­ry — so far:

1. What inspired your father to start Beck­men Vine­yards?
A farmer at heart, he want­ed to get back to work­ing the land. 

2. If you could describe Beck­men Vine­yards in three words, what would they be?
Fam­i­ly. Tra­di­tion. Delicious!

3. What makes the 30th har­vest so spe­cial for Beck­men Vine­yards?
It is a mile­stone and a proud tes­ta­ment to our endur­ing pas­sion and success.

4. How are you cel­e­brat­ing the 30th har­vest anniver­sary?
Craft­ing even more delight­ful wines!

Looking Back:

5. How has Beck­men Vine­yards evolved over the last 30 years?
At its heart, Beck­men is a tra­di­tion­al wine com­pa­ny. We have refined our wines over the past 30 years, mir­ror­ing the vine­yard’s growth.

6. If you could go back to your first har­vest, what advice would you give your­selves?
Trust your instincts more, and lis­ten to con­sul­tants less!

7. Can you share a mem­o­ry in mem­o­rable sto­ry from your first har­vest?
The first har­vest was late and con­sist­ed of very long days – 15 hours at least. The small old equip­ment we were using took a long time to process and clean!

8. Can you share an inter­est­ing anec­dote about a har­vest past?
Most mem­o­ries of past har­vest involve the crews, the fun, the hard work and the play. It is always about mak­ing great wine with great people.

9. Which year was your most mem­o­rable har­vest, and why?
There have been a few years where we have seen big improve­ments in qual­i­ty: 1997, 2001, 2003. More recent­ly, 2018 stands out for its across-the-board excellence.

Ups and Downs:

10. What’s the biggest chal­lenge you’ve faced in these 30 har­vest years?
Ini­tial­ly, build­ing our brand. Now, it’s about try­ing to main­tain our rel­e­vance in the ever chang­ing world of new wines, winer­ies and regions.

11. How have you seen the wine indus­try change over the past 30 years?
There are too many ways to list here!

12. What’s the biggest les­son you’ve learned in 30 years of wine­mak­ing?
The art of wait­ing — patience.

13. Can you share a high­light or stand­out moment from your jour­ney?
Get­ting a call from the White House and hav­ing our 2007 Estate Grenache served at a State Dinner.

A Glass Half Full Approach:

14. What is your favorite Beck­men wine, and why?
Tough pick! But because of what these wines have meant to the win­ery, I would say 1997 SBC Syrah, 2001 PMV Syrah Clone 1, 2003 PMV Grenache, and 2003 PMV Syrah Block Six.

15. What are the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics of wines pro­duced in your vine­yards?
Our wines bal­ance depth and rich­ness with finesse and texture.

16. How has bio­dy­nam­ic farm­ing changed the qual­i­ty and taste of your wines?
It has been a big part of the ele­gance and tex­ture side of our wine style, bring­ing more refine­ment and focus to the wines.

17. What’s one vine­yard prac­tice you swear by?
Un-trel­lised, free-stand­ing Grenache vines.

18. What sets Beck­men Vine­yards apart from oth­er winer­ies in San­ta Bar­bara Coun­ty?
One of the few estate-grown inde­pen­dent­ly farmed winer­ies in the County.

19. Can you share a sur­pris­ing fact about Beck­men Vine­yards that most peo­ple don’t know?
Pio­neers at heart, we were San­ta Bar­bara Coun­ty’s first to bot­tle vari­etal Grenache and Grenache Blanc.

20. What is the best food pair­ing for your sig­na­ture Purisi­ma Red Wine?
Being 100% Syrah, it’s a match made in heav­en with lamb.

21. How do you decide which grapes to grow in your vine­yards?
Our cli­mate and soils have always led the way in our deci­sions on vari­eties to plant and craft.

22. What’s the secret to aging wine grace­ful­ly?
Con­sis­ten­cy in cel­lar con­di­tions and, of course, patience.

Looking Forward:

23. How do you bal­ance tra­di­tion and inno­va­tion in wine­mak­ing?
I tilt towards tra­di­tion. Some­times, the most inno­v­a­tive step is going back to the roots.

24. How does the ter­roir of San­ta Ynez Val­ley influ­ence your wines?
The San­ta Ynez Val­ley is dis­tin­guished by its unique micro­cli­mates, rich vari­ety of soils, and a longer grow­ing sea­son due to its prox­im­i­ty to the Pacif­ic Ocean. These fac­tors, com­bined with cool nights and warm days, allow for the slow mat­u­ra­tion of grapes, result­ing in the Beck­men wines you’ve come to know and love — ones with vibrant acid­i­ty and nuanced flavors.

25. How do you see Beck­men Vine­yards evolv­ing over the next 30 years?
While I hope to be craft­ing wines, I dream of the next gen­er­a­tion infus­ing their style and vision.

26. What’s your favorite part of the vine­yard to vis­it, and why?
Purisi­ma Moun­tain’s peak. Its 360-degree view of San­ta Ynez Valley.

27. How do you ensure sus­tain­abil­i­ty in your wine­mak­ing process?
Our wine­mak­ing crew is very small and con­sis­tent. We try to take good care of each oth­er and, of course, great care of the wines.

28. What does the future hold for Beck­men Vine­yards?
Uncer­tain, but our com­pass will always be point­ed toward excel­lence — in our vine­yard, wines, and service.

29. What’s the most reward­ing part of wine­mak­ing for you?
The smiles and con­tent­ment of our wine lovers!

30. Final­ly, what’s one mes­sage you’d like to share with the Beck­men Vine­yards com­mu­ni­ty on this spe­cial 30th har­vest anniver­sary?
Keep enjoy­ing the wines, and we promise to con­tin­ue to make them bet­ter and bet­ter over the next 30!

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