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BV315 JNP10756

Exploring our Cabernet Sauvignon Wines

Posted: Sep 1, 2023

Upon our arrival to the San­ta Ynez wine grow­ing scene, the one thing that we were repeat­ed­ly told was that Caber­net Sauvi­gnon was not built for our cli­mate and soils. Caber­net Sauvi­gnon grown in the San­ta Ynez Val­ley strug­gled to ripen and was often plagued with green, veg­e­tal aro­mas and fla­vors of toma­to, jalapeño pep­per, and leafy green veg­eta­bles. True enough, the bot­tles which we inher­it­ed after pur­chas­ing the win­ery and vine­yard and our ini­tial releas­es of Caber­net exhib­it­ed many of those flavors. 

The Beginning of our Cabernet Journey

Work­ing our first crush in 1994, we processed around 25 tons of Caber­net Sauvi­gnon grapes. Most of the wine we pro­duced was plagued by under-ripe fla­vors, with the notable excep­tion of a small lot of wine that we made sep­a­rate­ly, orig­i­nat­ing from the steep hill­side where the orig­i­nal Caber­net Sauvi­gnon grapes were plant­ed. The vines strug­gled on that hill and pro­duced about half the crop as the rest of the vine­yard. The berries were small and the clus­ters were also small­er than the rest of the fruit we processed that vin­tage. That block of Caber­net pro­duced a wine that was head and shoul­ders above the rest of the crop. Light­bulbs quick­ly went off in our heads as we real­ized that the prob­lem with Caber­net Sauvi­gnon and the San­ta Ynez Val­ley prob­a­bly had more to do with farm­ing tech­niques and site selec­tion rather than with the vari­ety itself. We also noticed that crop size was a vital part of achiev­ing the ripeness lev­els we desired, and we knew then that we should con­tin­ue to pur­sue this variety.

Over the next sev­er­al vin­tages, we con­tin­ued to make the Caber­net Sauvi­gnon from the hill­side as a sep­a­rate wine from the larg­er bot­tling, and it con­tin­ued to impress us with its riper fla­vor pro­file, fuller bod­ied wine, and fine tan­nin struc­ture. After we com­plet­ed the devel­op­ment of Purisi­ma Moun­tain in the late 90s, we turned our atten­tion to the replant­i­ng of the Thomas and Judith Beck­men Estate Vine­yard in the ear­ly 2000s. 

Purisi­ma Moun­tain was ini­tial­ly plant­ed with 16 acres of Caber­net Sauvi­gnon. After a cou­ple of ini­tial suc­cess­ful har­vests, it became appar­ent that the vari­ety was not thriv­ing in the heav­ier clay/​limestone soils of Bal­lard Canyon. Giv­en the ini­tial suc­cess­es in por­tions of the oth­er vine­yard, we deter­mined that Caber­net Sauvi­gnon would be the focus vari­ety at the Thomas and Judith Beck­men Estate Vineyard. 

Redesigning our Estate Vineyard

We first secured a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent clones of Caber­net Sauvi­gnon on some root­stocks per­fect­ly suit­ed to the site and then went about the rede­vel­op­ment. Our first step was to redesign the vine­yard into sev­er­al small­er more con­tigu­ous blocks with vines plant­ed at a much high­er den­si­ty of vines per acre com­pared to the orig­i­nal plant­i­ng. Putting some num­bers on this to under­stand the dif­fer­ence, the old vine­yard con­tained 490 vines per acre ver­sus around 1,400 vines per acre for the new vine­yard. The idea is that we would ask each vine to car­ry and ripen about a third less fruit than the orig­i­nal plant­i­ng, while keep­ing the total yield from the vine­yard con­stant. We also shift­ed the row direc­tions to more favor­able angles and did not plant in the swales or heav­ier soil areas to help lim­it the vig­or of the vines. The goal behind all these ideas was to increase the fruit qual­i­ty from these vines.

World Class Cabernet

We are hap­py that our deci­sion to con­tin­ue to pro­duce Caber­net Sauvi­gnon has real­ly paid off. No longer do we have the wor­ries about a pre­pon­der­ance of under ripe fla­vors in these wines. We are proud that our work in bet­ter under­stand­ing what was required to grow world class Caber­net in the San­ta Ynez Val­ley has opened the door for oth­ers to come along and find suc­cess with this vari­ety. Now, our Caber­net Sauvi­gnon wines can and do com­pete with the finest Caber­net Sauvi­gnon wines pro­duced any­where in the world. Based on our recent run of incred­i­ble vin­tages and high crit­ics scores, our Caber­net wines are where we want­ed to be 30 years ago.

Annu­al­ly, we pro­duce three dis­tinct bot­tlings of Caber­net Sauvi­gnon off the Thomas and Judith Estate Vine­yard. They are the San­ta Ynez Val­ley Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, Estate Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, and the TLB Red Wine, named for our founder Thomas Law­er­ence Beck­men. In excep­tion­al years, we pro­duce a fourth bot­tling named after both Tom and his wife: the Thomas and Judith Beck­men Estate Vine­yard Caber­net Sauvignon.

Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Our San­ta Ynez Val­ley Caber­net Sauvi­gnon is pri­mar­i­ly made from fruit grown at the T and J Beck­men Estate Vine­yard but is occa­sion­al­ly blend­ed with fruit from a few of our neigh­bors’ vine­yards who share a sim­i­lar farm­ing phi­los­o­phy. For­ward fruit, seam­less tex­ture, and beau­ti­ful bal­ance are the hall­marks of this bot­tling which is typ­i­cal­ly aged for 18 months in 33% new French oak bar­rels. The beau­ty of this wine is that it drinks fan­tas­ti­cal­ly on release; yet, it has the struc­ture beneath those fan­tas­tic fruit fla­vors that allows it to age beau­ti­ful­ly for 1015 years. In fact, our orig­i­nal Caber­net Sauvi­gnon bot­tling that began with the 1993 is bet­ter than ever after 30 vintages!

Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

The Estate Caber­net Sauvi­gnon is pro­duced from a selec­tion of fruit har­vest­ed from two finest blocks on the Thomas and Judith Beck­men Vine­yard: Block 4, the site of the orig­i­nal hill­side block dis­cussed ear­li­er, and Block 2, which extends north from the orig­i­nal pond. Because of the stress cre­at­ed by the hill­side plant­i­ngs, these vines pro­duce a tiny crop with both the berries and clus­ters being small­er. The wine cre­at­ed from these two blocks is the most con­cen­trat­ed in fla­vor and high­est in phe­no­lic com­pounds (tan­nin and antho­cyanins, col­or). These fac­tors make a more pow­er­ful, struc­tured Caber­net Sauvi­gnon com­pared to the San­ta Ynez Val­ley; yet, the wine is deli­cious­ly approach­able when young. Built to last 20+ years or more, the wine is typ­i­cal­ly aged for 22 months in 60 – 70% new French oak bar­rels. Annu­al pro­duc­tion on this wine is typ­i­cal­ly around 350 cases.


The third Caber­net Sauvi­gnon wine that we pro­duce on the Thomas and Judith Estate Vine­yard is an annu­al favorite, the TLB Red Wine, a field blend of 85% Caber­net Sauvi­gnon and 15% Syrah. Har­vest­ed and co-fer­ment­ed, this wine car­ries the name of our founder Thomas Law­er­ence Beck­men and is one of our finest bot­tlings each vin­tage. A blend of fruit from Blocks 3 (the orig­i­nal TLB field blend block), Block 2 and Syrah G, Caber­net takes cen­ter stage in the aro­ma pro­file while the Syrah comes through on the mouth bring­ing vel­vety tex­ture and acid­i­ty while boost­ing the wines juicy pro­file. A wine that is built to last, all vin­tages going back to the inau­gur­al release in 2007 are drink­ing beau­ti­ful­ly now. TLB is the bench­mark release from the Thomas and Judith Beck­men Estate Vineyard.

Thomas and Judith Beckmen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

When the har­vest qual­i­ty is espe­cial­ly promis­ing, we would bot­tle a fourth Caber­net Sauvi­gnon wine, the Thomas and Judith Beck­men Estate Caber­net Sauvi­gnon. This more recent addi­tion to the Caber­net line-up is only pro­duced in the finest vin­tages. It is a selec­tion of the best Caber­net Sauvi­gnon bar­rel or two bar­rels from the har­vest. Pri­mar­i­ly sold through the Beck­men Futures Pro­gram (our annu­al Futures wine sale), this spe­cial bot­tling encom­pass­es the finest qual­i­ties of our Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, bright-lift­ed fruit and impec­ca­ble structure. 

While it took some learn­ing and time, we are incred­i­bly proud that the hard work and com­mit­ment we have put into grow­ing Caber­net Sauvi­gnon has yield­ed a port­fo­lio of wines that offer con­sumers an incred­i­ble val­ue. Try some of our Caber­net today and appre­ci­ate what 30 years of knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence can deliver.

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