Byron Vineyard & Winery

Owner(s) Jackson Family Wines
Web site www.byronwines.com
 
Link to this site

The first commercial vineyard in Santa Barbara County was established by Uriel Nielson in 1964. Ken Brown (Byron Kent Brown) later founded his Byron Winery on the site of the original Nielsen Vineyard and released the first Byron Pinot Noir from purchased grapes in 1984. Brown acquired the 118-acre Nielsen Vineyard in 1989. In 1990, Robert Mondavi Winery bought Byron. A few years later, Ken Brown left to pursue his own label and Ken Volk purchased the Byron Winery and renamed it Kenneth Volk Vineyards. Subsequently Byron passed through the hands of Constellation Brands, Legacy Estates Group and finally Jackson Family Wines who currently own the winery.

The winemaker since 2003 is Jonathan Nagy, a University California Davis graduate. He works with all of the commonly used Dijon clones plus Pommard, Wadenswil and Swan selection from multiple vineyard sources including Nielson Vineyard, Sierra Madre Vineyard, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Julia's Vineyard. There are both Santa Maria Valley appellation Pinot Noirs and vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs (Sierra Madre Vineyard, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Julia's Vineyard, Nelson Vineyard, and Monument Vineyard).

The tasting room is located in Los Olivos at The Bench: An Artisan Estate Winery Collection, 2367 Alamo Pintado Avenue.

Reviewed Wines

2012 Byron Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.56, 9,919 cases, $29. Fruit primarily from the estate Nielson Vineyard (both old and newer vines) with a smaller amount from the Sta. Rita Hills. Aged 16 months in 18% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose attracts with aromas of spiced strawberry and raspberry, violets and vanillin oak. There is plenty of luscious spiced berry and plum fruit but it is somewhat overwhelmed by oakdriven notes of vanilla and dark chocolate. Easy to drink with submerged tannins, finishing a bit shallow and short. Score: 86. Reviewed July 19, 2014 ARTICLE »

2012 Byron Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $36. Released November 2013. Clones 114, 667 and Pommard from Santa Barbara’s first commercial vineyard. Aged 11 months in 35% new French oak. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. A dark-fruited wine with aromas and flavors of plum, black currant and blackberry with an earthy and brown spice underpinning. Mid to full-bodied, with hints of grilled mushroom and dried herbs, and plenty of oak overlay. Velvety on the palate with good finishing intensity. Score: 89. Reviewed July 19, 2014 ARTICLE »

2011 Byron Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.50, $19. Aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Very fragrant with an array of aromas including dark berries, spice, Hoison, cigar box and oak. Flavorful plum and boysenberry fruits with complimentary toasted and tobacco-imbued oak in the background. A middleweight style with balanced tannins and easy drink ability. Very good concentration for the vintage. A respectable representation of the Santa Barbara County region and an excellent valuepriced wine for everyday drinking. Good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Byron Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.50, 15, 207 cases, $29. 100% estate-owned Nielson Vineyard fruit. This wine comes from both older Pinot Noir vines planted on their own rootstock and new vines planted to high density spacing with the latest clones and rootstocks. Aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very appealing aromas of black raspberries, black plums, spice, pine and nut-scented oak. Mid weight flavors of dark berries, cherries and plums with pleasing hints of cola, spice and herbal oak. A little earthy tone fills the background. This wine is noticeably lighter, fresher and crisper in this vintage. Good. Reviewed March 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Byron Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.50, 15, 207 cases, $29. 100% estate-owned Nielson Vineyard fruit. This wine comes from both older Pinot Noir vines planted on their own rootstock and new vines planted to high density spacing with the latest clones and rootstocks. Aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very appealing aromas of black raspberries, black plums, spice, pine and nutscented oak. Mid weight flavors of dark berries, cherries and plums with pleasing hints of cola, spice and herbal oak. A little earthy tone fills the background. This wine is noticeably lighter, fresher and crisper in this vintage. Good (+). Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Byron Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., pH 3.36, TA 0.59, 294 cases, $32. Released November 2012. Santa Barbara’s first commercial vineyard planted by Uriel Nielson in 1964. The Byron Estate is located on the site of Nielson’s original plantings. Clone 95 and Wente. 100% native yeast barrel fermented with 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged 12 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Reserved aromatically with shy aromas of honey, vanilla and pastry cream. Full-flavored core of lemon drop, baked pear, honey, gingerbread and caramel. Very plush and creamy on the palate, lacking a little grip, but exhibiting accomplished use of oak as an adjunct. Score: 87. Reviewed July 21, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Byron Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $36. From Santa Barbara’s first commercial vineyard. Clones 114, 667 and Pommard. Small yields. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The aromatics are captivating with a complex array of black raspberry, blackberry, spice and floral aromas which hold up well over time in the glass. The dark red and black berry fruits are perfectly ripe and bright. There is a complimentary accent of spice and oak with an earthy undertow. This wine offers impressive clarity and tension and is very easy to drink now. I liked it increasingly over time. Score: 93. Reviewed August 14, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Byron Whole Cluster Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc.. Mt Eden clone. · Deep, dark purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh black cherries with coffee-laced oak. Still young and somewhat withdrawn, but showing bottomless plum and blackberry flavors laced with smoky oak and clothed in generous tannins. Should benefit from more cellar time to integrate the oak and tannins. Great potential. Very good. Reviewed July 21, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Byron Clone 667 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.53, 50 cases, $45. A small lot wine that is part of the winery’s experimental approach to winemaking. Sourced from the estate Nielson Vineyard. 10% whole clusters. Aged 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Reserved, but pleasant array of darker fruit aromas with a sexy perfume of a fine Prada leather coat. Earthy and meaty, relatively big, but polished, with a delicious core of well-spiced dark fruits, backed by firm, but balanced tannins. A very satisfying wine that only falls a tad short on the finishing length. Very good. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Byron Monument Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.57, 225 cases, $60. A small lot wine that is part of the winery’s experimental approach to winemaking. From Sanford & Benedict selections. A barrel selection that represents the finest red wine made each year. Aged 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. A bit exotic and highly alluring on the nose with aromas of black cherry pie glaze, blackberries and spice. Earth-kissed array of darker stone and berry fruits that gently saturate the palate, finishing with a remarkable kiss of spiced raspberries. Velvety smooth in the mouth with ripe, balanced tannins and judicious presence of oak. Not overwrought like so many reserve-type wines. A complete wine that gets better and better over time in the glass. “Monument” is an appropriate name for this exceptional offering. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Byron Whole Cluster Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.57, 225 cases, $60. Aged 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright black cherry and spice aromas with oak-driven notes of coffee and smoke. Well-endowed with an intensely flavored core of black cherry fruit balanced with firm but powdery tannins and accented with oak. Has enough acidity to carry the fruit and tannin load. Soft and silky on the palate. Great potential here, but needs more time for the oak to integrate. Very good. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Byron Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., $25. A popular wine with 12,835 cases of the 2008 vintage sold out. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. Sourced from the estate Nielson Vineyard planted in 1964. · Deeply colored. Nicely scented with aromas of black raspberry tart, black cherries, smoky oak and rose petals. Sweet and rich with a powerful core of dark red stone fruits and berries and underpinnings of earth, anise and grilled meat. The tannins are supple and the wine’s richness and velvety mouthfeel courtesy of the alcohol will find fans. A grocery store staple that is in wide distribution. Good. Reviewed January 27, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Byron Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 1,028 cases, $34. From Santa Barbara’s first commercial vineyard, planted in 1964. Clones are 2A, Swan, 667, 828, 114, 115, 777. Small yields and tiny berries from a windy, arid site producing low-vigor. Aged 16 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Highly aromatic with scents of plum reduction sauce, dark roses, lavender and Santa Maria spice. The flavors of dark plums, purple grapes and dark berries are quite distinctive and zesty, with an impressive aromatic lift of black cherries on the finish. A little earthy, a little spicy, with well-proportioned fine-grain tannins and a pleasingly smooth mouth feel. Drank beautifully the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Immensely satisfying. (Note: the 2009 Byron Santa Maria Valley bottling at $25 is quite good as well and was reviewed previously) Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Byron Nielson Vineyard Estate Bottled Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc.. The Nielson Vineyard was planted in 1964 by Uriel Nielson, the first commercial vineyard in Santa Barbara County. The site is windy, arid and cold leading to low vigor vine growth. Clones 113, 114, 115, 667, 777, 2A and Pommard. · Darkly colored. Intensely fruity nose featuring dark berries with a hint of oak toast, oak spice and sandalwood. Impressive explosion of fruit on the nose. Over time in the glass, aromas of underbrush and brininess that is common in the Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir fruit emerges. Plenty of pleasing red and black fruits on the palate with a sidecar of earth, tea and spice. A Caliesque-styled wine that provides plenty of pleasure at a decent price. Perfect with a grilled steak. Very good. Reviewed April 8, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Byron Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $19. Estate produced and bottled. · Well-oaked cherry fruit with herbal overtones carrying through in the flavors. Noticeably toasty. Clean and precise with soft tannins. Matches up nicely with grilled lamb. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Byron Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 17,609 cases, $25. A blend of grapes from the Nielson Estate Vineyard (90%) and Bien Nacido Vineyard (10%). Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · This wine has a pleasurable perfume of raspberries, plums and oak. The flavors feature darker fruits enhanced by notes of leather and oak. An elegant, silky styled wine with a nice little cherry kick at the end. The tannins are well-integrated. Cellaring for six months should mellow the oak flavors. A solid daily drinker. Reviewed June 19, 2006

2003 Byron Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 418 cases, $40. A special bottling using a combination of 115, Pommard and Swan clones from one of the original Nielson Vineyard blocks used in experimental plantings. The block is high on the shoulder of the Santa Maria bench, which limits the soil depth and gives the site a slightly better exposure. Yield was a measly 1.5 tons per acre. The wine was aged in 30% new French oak barrels for 10 months. · The nose is deeply endowed with dark berries, toast and chocolate, building in richness in the glass (always a good sign). Interesting dark Pinot fruits with a little hint of tobacco and baking spices. Soft, sexy, elegant and finishes clean. The touch of French oak on the finish should move toward brown spice as the wine ages. A real charmer. Reviewed June 19, 2006