Imagine buying wines before they have even left the barrel, let alone hit the shelves of your favorite store! For two decades, Beckmen Vineyards has been opening our cellar doors each fall, offering a rare opportunity to taste our limited-production red wines, as they patiently mature in oak barrels. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the workings of our annual Futures program, and why this could be the best wine investment you ever make.
1. What are Futures and why should I be interested?
“Our Futures Program is a unique opportunity for our customers to get a sneak peek at some early wine samples and get to know the wines from their inception”, says our winemaker Steve Beckmen. “When you purchase wines through our Futures program, you’re getting the best possible price at any time. The opportunity is golden.”
Wine Futures, also known as “en primeur” (meaning ‘as a first’ directly translated from French), is a tradition that can be traced back all the way to the 18th century in Bordeaux, France. The practice entails offering wines for sale while still in the barrels, typically a few months after the harvest and long before they have matured enough to be bottled and officially released to the market. This pre-purchasing model served as a prime opportunity for all wine lovers to secure their share of highly sought-after wines at a very desirable price point before they became available to the general public.
The tradition was born from Bordeaux winemakers’ eagerness to get a sense of the market’s reception to their hard work. They began selling their wines early to merchants. Over the centuries, this evolved into an annual event, allowing for buyers to secure wines at potentially lower prices, while wineries got early funding to support their production. This concept spread rapidly to wine regions across the world from Burgundy to Napa Valley, and now right here to Santa Barbara County.
Unlike traditional practices, we’ve taken a customer-friendly approach in Santa Barbara County, where pre-orders are not charged upfront. Instead, buyers are billed only when the wine is released, between October 2023 and April 2024, spreading out the payments.
2. What wines are included in the 2023 Futures program and what makes them special?
The 2023 Futures program at Beckmen Vineyards includes a carefully curated selection of small production wines, many of which are anticipated to sell out after the Futures and quarterly club shipments. Among these exclusive offerings, the Purisima Red Wine stands out as a unique collector’s item, not available in the quarterly shipments, making the Futures program the ideal place to purchase it. What truly sets these wines apart is that they are handpicked by Steve, the winemaker, representing some of his top choices from the vintage.
The six wines included in the 2023 Futures program are:
2022 Purisima Mountain Vineyard Grenache Libre A French Rhône-like Grenache, showcasing vibrant fruit and spice with a well-structured grace.
2022 Purisima Mountain Vineyard Syrah Clone 1 The 22nd vintage with the classic allure of clone 1, combining the rich flavors of bacon fat, chocolate, and deep dark fruits.
- 2021 Purisima Mountain Vineyard Syrah Block Six Cool vintage and superb structure highlight this classic, minerally Block Six Syrah, promising graceful aging for 20+ years.
2021 Purisima Red Wine A Futures exclusive, this 100% Syrah showcases the finest Block Six selection, a rarity often sold out upon release.
2021 TLB (Thomas Laurence Beckmen) Bold and vibrant, this wine, named after our founder Tom, is accentuated with 15% Syrah, adding a lively tension to its fruit flavors.
- 2021 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon This offering is a deep and rich dance of precision and bold structure, an enticing journey in every glass.
3. How can I participate in the Futures Program and what does the process look like?
Participation in the program is now more simple and accessible than ever, with barrel tastings being carried out both on the Beckmen Vineyards estate as well as online. You can also submit a Futures pre-order without tasting the wines.
If you’re nearby, join us for on-site Futures tastings on Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm from September 30 to October 22 at a cost of $50 per person. Steve leads tastings on Saturdays on our patio, while Kip (our Tasting Room Manager) hosts on Sundays, often in our intimate cellar room for smaller gatherings. You can also arrange a weekday tasting with Kip by appointment. Live tastings promise an immersive experience, complete with a cheeseboard from a local cheesery and an introduction to our six select wines.
If you can’t make it in person, you can still experience the richness of our wines through virtual Futures tastings on Zoom on specific dates in October. Led by our Sales Director, Jeff Beckmen, these tastings cost $50, inclusive of a kit that contains 50ml samples of the six different wines, their details, and our winemaker’s tasting notes, plus shipping (for people living in hot places like Texas and Florida, we recommend FedEx refrigerated shipping due to potential weather delays).
4. How does pre-ordering work?
The six wines included in the Futures program can be pre-ordered from August through October. We require a three-bottle minimum pre-order for each wine, and ground shipping is included on all wines if the total pre-order is 12+ bottles. A tasting fee is also refunded with each 12 bottle pre-order; two tastings would be refunded with a 24 bottle pre-order.
The six wines will be bottled and released at different stages between this fall and spring of next year, so as your pre-ordered wine becomes ready, you will be charged for your allotment. For example, if you pre-ordered the Grenache Libre you will be charged when it is released in April 2024.
You can submit your pre-order here.
5. What advice does Steve have when tasting these wines?
“Consider the energy and feel of the wine. Think about how it’s hitting your palate and how it finishes. Is it softer, rounder, or more tannic? These are all clues as to how the wine will have aged once it arrives at your door”, Steve advises.
“Wines sold at Futures are discounted at the lowest price they’ll ever be offered at,” Steve says. “This is a chance to secure the bottle you’ve always wanted and keep it in your cellar for years to come, possibly even a lifetime.”
6. How does the Futures program reveal the winemaking process at Beckmen Vineyards?
For nearly twenty years, Beckmen Vineyards has opened our cellar doors to our members for a rare opportunity to taste a limited selection of our small production red wines still aging in oak barrels. Beyond the undeniable purchasing value that Futures offers, Steve also notes the educational benefits it can bring. “Futures can really enhance a drinker’s understanding of the wine. You’re tasting it from its infancy and once it’s evolved, so you really begin to understand what’s happening to the wine throughout its time in the barrel”, he explains.
Guests learn how the wine was grown, why it was made, and what decisions ultimately went into crafting the particular wine before them. Tastings are carried out by Steve himself, and guests make notes on each wine’s qualities as they go along. “It’s a really fun and interactive event that our community looks forward to”, says Steve. Being able to experience wine through its different stages of development is hard to come by, as most people will only ever taste the wine once its final iteration enters the market. With Futures, however, the relationship with the wine you purchase is lengthy and intimate.
The track record shows that it’s hard to go wrong. Beckmen Vineyards wines sold during the Futures program have historically been some of the best we’ve ever produced, with many selling out before even becoming available to the public. After all, as Steve reminds us, “Great wine is always great.”