PINOT PLAY: Ryan Beauregard looks forward to seeing what his Bonny Doon estate can do with pinot vines.
Bountiful Boon in Bonny Doon
A tour of Beauregard Vineyards' bodaciously productive estate
By Christina Waters
ONCE upon a time it was the Lost Weekend, an infamous and much-loved Santa Cruz Mountain hangout.
Transformed into a winemaking facility two decades ago, the rustic spot has been home to Ryan Beauregard's winery for the past two years. The vintages produced there include deeply textured syrahs, merlots and pinot noirs as well as complex chardonnays and supple sauvignon blancs. They bear the names of storied vineyards like Meyley and Bald Mountain. At this immensely beautiful setting three miles from the ocean, Beauregard Tasting Room currently offers tastes of a dozen house wines, scenic picnicking and a chance to see what the fourth generation of this winegrowing family is up to.
Armed with a few sample tastes of Beauregard's 2007 Pinot Noirs, I hop into Ryan Beauregard's brand new Dodge 4x4, a small city on wheels, along with his wife and business manager Rachel for a quick tour of the family's historic mountaintop vineyards.
"So what's your favorite part of all this?" I ask Ryan Beauregard as we sit overlooking 40 acres of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes.
"Pruning," he replies without taking a breath. "Because that's where the winemaking begins." Given what I'm looking at—and the wine I'm tasting as I survey the undulating hills and ocean beyond—the Beauregards know their way around a pair of shears. Stretching to the horizon are the Bald Mountain vines planted in 1989 by Ryan's father Jim Beauregard, estate viticulturist as well as owner of Santa Cruz's Shopper's Corner market. Dad grows the vines, the son makes the wine. "We do really well in business together," the younger Beauregard tells me. "We have the same goal: to prosper using Bonny Doon estate grapes."
"Now that budbreak has passed," he continues, pointing to the 2-inch growth of chartreuse adorning the tops of the vines, "the next thing is for the plants to get fertilized." So prolific are these spectacular fields—at 85 acres this is the largest planting of wine grapes in the Santa Cruz Mountains—that estate vines can yield 120 tons per annual harvest. And that means Beauregard grapes find their way into other labels like Soquel Vineyards, Clos la Chance and Martin Alfaro. One day the hilltop will sprout an estate residence, but for now it's a sunny spot overlooking immaculate vines. "This would be a great spot for a yurt," Rachel Beauregard beams. So, I ask, what's the plan for Beauregard Vineyards? "Well, we've got 17 wines in current release," Beauregard admits with a grin. "We're getting more focused now, even though I like to have an eclectic lineup." Like most of the other regional winemakers, Beauregard wants to experiment with the coveted pinot noir these slopes seem to favor. A sparkling wine might be in the future too, if Rachel has her way.
Harvest time, the busiest time, is still a half year away at this picturesque winery. But the verdant land is quietly working its magic.
10 Pine Flat Road, Bonny Doon 831.425.7777
Tasting room open daily 11am–5pm
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