Bonny Doon, Calif., — Sept. 1, 2021 —Beauregard Vineyards began harvesting estate Chardonnay from the family’s Beauregard Ranch in the early morning hours of September 1, in a blanket of fog. For Winemaker Ryan Beauregard, who grew up on the Bonny Doon ranch where his father, Jim, still lives, this day represents not only his 23rd harvest, but also a profound departure from last year, when the CZU fire nearly wiped out his entire livelihood, home and vineyards. Due to the unrelenting smoke and ash, last year’s beautiful crop was rendered unusable, but efforts by Ryan and his stalwart neighbors saved the vineyards.
Says Beauregard, “This is a proud moment for my family as we celebrate our 76th harvest from a property that was originally planted in the 1880s by the Queistorff family. It’s amazing to think that grapes have been harvested from this land for 135 years! We may have lost all our crop last year, but we are going to do our best to make the finest wine ever from this vintage.”
He has something to aspire to, as Wine Enthusiast just released their scores for Beauregard’s latest submissions, and the 2019 Beauregard Ranch Chardonnay ($60) was just awarded 95 points, its highest score ever. The sister Chardonnay from the family’s Bald Mountain Vineyard ($60) scored 96 points, also its highest score ever.
This beautiful Chardonnay is not the first fruit to cross the crushpad this 2021 harvest season. On August 11, Beauregard brought in Carignan, Mourvedre and Zinfandel from 135-year old vines at the Sandy Lane Vineyard in Contra Costa county, just as he did last year, just days before the lightning-sparked CZU fires devastated the region and caused the largest evacuation ever in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Nearly 1k homes were leveled, and much of the infrastructure of Big Basin Park was left in ruins.
But there was light at the end of the dark tunnel of 2020. While Beauregard and his neighbors fought the fires with everything they could from dump trucks to leaf blowers, the grapes from Contra Costa sat unattended in fermentation vats covered in plastic. When Beauregard peeled back the plastic, he found the grapes had fermented on their own, with zero input. Says Beauregard, “The plastic covering had trapped the naturally occurring CO2 gas and had kept the wine from going bad. What I came to find was that the wine was actually in good condition. By the sheer muscularity of Zinfandel, Carignan, and Mourvedre from those 135-year-old vines, the wine was also a survivor of the fire. After locating a generator, I was able to press the wine into tanks where it sat alone for several more weeks before going into neutral barrels.”
The wine was just released under his second label, the popular “Lost Weekend” series, which pays homage to the tasting room he purchased from Randall Grahm in 2008. It had been the Bonny Doon tasting room prior, and a much-loved watering hole for decades before that. Says Beauregard, “The ‘Lost Weekend’ has stood through many natural disasters, including two major earthquakes: 1906 and 1989. It has stood through The Great Fire of 1905, The Pine Mountain Fire of 1945, the Martin Fire of 2008, The Lockheed Martin Fire of 2009, and most recently, the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire.”
The wine is a miracle, filled with vibrant fruit, intense flavor and glorious depth, as only old vines can produce. It can be purchased online at $25/bottle, and worth every penny.
That the community of Bonny Doon remains largely intact is a testament to the bravery of renegades and stalwart mountain people who refused to give up their homes, their livelihoods and their very heritage. Like those 135-year old vines that produced the Lost Weekend wine, the Beauregard Vineyards tasting room and winery, along with their 65 acres of vines at Beauregard Ranch, Coast Grade Vineyard and Bald Mountain Vineyard, remain, survivors of yet another disaster.
About Beauregard Vineyards
Beauregard Vineyards is open daily for tastings, from 10am until 5pm, at 10 Pine Flat Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Tastings, $25pp, are waived with purchases of $50pp, and can be reserved inside the Lost Weekend at the old redwood tasting bar or outdoors, under the redwoods. The Beauregard family also owns the Slow Coast Wine Bar in Davenport, on Highway 1. It is open Thursday through Monday, from 1pm until 7:30pm. For more info, visit www.beauregardvineyards.com