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Byron Introduces Single-Vineyard Wines

Inspired by innovative vintner Uriel Nielson, the first to plant a commercial vineyard in Santa Barbara County in 1964, Byron returns to its roots with a focus on limited production, single vineyard Pinot Noir, while continuing to make wines that feature Santa Barbara’s coastal AVAs under the Nielson label, including Santa Maria Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and the broader Santa Barbara County AVA. Byron Winery, located in Santa Maria, was one of Santa Barbara’s pioneering wineries, but in recent years has shifted its focus away from vineyard designated wines.

The 2013 vintage of Byron wines marks a return to single vineyard Pinot Noirs including releases from Nielson Vineyard, Julia’s Vineyard, Sierra Madre Vineyard, and Monument Vineyard, all in the Santa Maria Valley AVA. Future releases will offer Pinot Noir from the John Sebastiano, Rita’s Crown and La Encantada vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills and Chardonnay from the Nielson and Bien Nacido vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley. The new wines will be available primarily through the winery mailing list and website at www.byronwines.com, with limited distribution nationally to select wine retailers and restaurants.

Director of Winemaking for Byron Winery, Jonathan Nagy (pictured below), grew up in Santa Barbara County, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from University of California at Davis. After graduation, his initial winemaking experience was at Cambria Winery, later followed by an assistant winemaker position in 2001 at Byron Winery under pioneering Santa Barbara vintner, Ken Brown. In 2003, Jonathan became the Director of Winemaking at Byron Winery. He lives in Santa Maria with his spouse Clarissa, who is also a winemaker.



Byron offers public and private tastings daily at a newly remodeled tasting room in downtown Los Olivos.


2014 Nielson by Byron Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.50, $19. Sourced from Sta. Rita Hills, Los Alamos and Santa Maria Valley appellations. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 5% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of wood-kissed cherries lead to an easy drinking, cherry-flavored wine with accents of black tea, a flowery infusion and oak. Nothing serious or contemplative, but a solid everyday wine with nicely integrated tannins and acidity. Score: 87

2014 Nielson by Byron Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.55, $29. Small lot fermentations, 10% whole cluster, extended maceration for some tanks. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 15% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh berry tart and kitchen baking spices. Juicy and suave on the palate, with vivacious flavors of dark red strawberries and boysenberries. Very giving, with impressive balance. Score: 90


The new Byron vineyard designated wines are vinified differently depending on site. The grapes are either crushed whole cluster, 33% de-stemmed or fully de-stemmed into a variety of vessels from oak barrels and one-half ton bins up to 6-ton tanks. Most lots are inoculated and punched down twice daily. The wines are age on the lees in a French oak barrels from several cooperages. On average, Byron Pinot Noir is aged for 16 months in barrel and 12 months in bottle before release.


2013 Byron Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 1,750 cases, $45. Nielson Vineyard surrounds the winery and is more than just Byron’s Estate Vineyard as it has historical significance as the first commercial vineyard planted in Santa Barbara County in 1964 (and replanted in 2000). Thin sandy loam soils, cooling maritime influence. Dijon clones 114 and 667 and Pommard. 100% de-stemmed, 3 to 5-day cold soak, aged in 100% French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The first impression on this wine is oak as the nose and flavor spectrum is dominated by notes of espresso, caramel and toast. Although only 35% new oak was used, the halo of oak pervades this wine even over time in the glass and when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Soft and silky in texture, with lovely integration of tannins and acidity, the wine offers a core of black cherry, raspberry and plum flavors, and some finishing power. I gave the wine every chance, but the oak overlay proved too daunting to warrant a higher score. Score: 89

2013 Byron Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 225 cases, $45. A cool and exposed site in the Santa Maria Valley with sandy loam soils. Planted in 1974. Clone 667. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 31% new. · Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Elevating aromas of cherry and spice cake that hold up over time in the glass. Very satisfying attack and mid palate presence of mid weight cherry, raspberry and brown spice flavors. Very charming personality, offering delicate fine-grain tannins, buried oak, and a highly approachable demeanor. Still engaging the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle. Tres Pinot. Score: 92

2013 Byron Julia’s Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 115 cases, $45. This vineyard has some of the oldest vines in the region. Ancient alluvial sandy loam soils and cool, maritime influence. Planted in 1970 originally. Pommard 4 clone. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 39% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, ripe strawberry and sous bois lead off. Easy to like, with silky tannins, a suave texture, nicely integrated oak, and a generous amount of dark red and black cherry and berry flavors that linger on the finish. Still solid the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 90

2013 Byron Monument Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 119 cases, $65. This wine is crafted from the best blocks of Byron’s Estate Nielson Vineyard. Dijon clones 114, 667 and Pommard. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 78% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy initially, picking up character over time in the glass to reveal aromas of cherry reduction sauce, spice and biscuit. On entry, there is an explosion of blackest cherry, blackberry and cassis fruit flavors that are refined and dance in a flirty manner on the palate. Very classy, with considerable polish, and remarkable intensity and length on the notable finish. The noteworthy finish still stood out the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. A beautiful expression of Central Coast Pinot Noir. Score: 93


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