Some of the most venerated dirt in the world, Beckstoffer To Kalon comes with a pedigree of game-changing California Cabernet Sauvignon.
When Andy Beckstoffer arrived in Napa Valley in 1969, what would eventually become his most celebrated vineyard property was known simply as BV #4. It was André Tchelistcheff who pointed out, almost as an aside, that BV #4 happened to be part of the historic To Kalon Vineyard, planted in 1868 by H.W. Crabb. Beckstoffer farmed for Beaulieu Vineyards for many years and, although fruit from BV #4 made the category-defining Private Reserve, the benchmark for California Cabernet Sauvignon, he never heard another reference to To Kalon.
Hard to believe today, when Beckstoffer To Kalon is one of the most widely known and celebrated vineyards in the world.
Beckstoffer purchased the 89-acre parcel in 1993, and within a year made the decision to begin replanting. At the same time, he set the intention to start selling grapes to a variety of vintners instead of just one, as had been the custom. “If one vintner makes great wine from a vineyard, they say the winemaker is great,” Beckstoffer explains. “But if twenty vintners make great wine from a vineyard, they say the vineyard’s great. So that’s what we sought to do.”
“In these great, historic vineyards, the total is much more than the sum of the parts. You take soil and climate and altitude, and the way they come together is all of a sudden something more. The magic is the total.”
Not to say that great winemakers aren’t on his radar. On the contrary, he’s keenly interested in getting his grapes into the hands of promising winemakers—like TOR’s Jeff Ames and his mentor Thomas Brown. “Their technique is a little bit different from others,” Beckstoffer believes. “People like Jeff seem to do the best job with this fruit.”
Jeff’s winemaking style simply mirrors the Beckstoffer winegrowing approach. You see something truly special and try to stay out of the way as much as possible.