Experts in Crafting Pinot Noir With a Strong Sense of Place With Barry Waitte of Tamber Bey Vineyards

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Aug 10, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Experts in Crafting Pinot Noir With a Strong Sense of Place With Barry Waitte of Tamber Bey Vineyards

Last Updated on August 10, 2023 by nicole

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Experts in Crafting Pinot Noir With a Strong Sense of Place With Barry Waitte of Tamber Bey Vineyards 11

Barry Waitte, the President, Founder, and Vintner at Tamber Bey Vineyards, has transitioned from a tech industry background at Apple and AOL to become a prominent figure in the wine world. As the President of the Oakville Winegrowers Association, who’s also armed with a business degree from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, he has extended his leadership prowess. Barry’s narrative, enriched by his passion for endurance horse racing and polo, weaves together his equestrian pursuits with his winemaking journey, embodying a harmonious blend of innovation and ardor.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Discover how the recent historic storms have reshaped the landscape of Napa Valley
  • Barry unveils the meticulous preparations undertaken to effectively brace for a wet season
  • Delve into the exciting developments at Tamber Bey Vineyards and the visionary leadership of Barry as the President of the Oakville Winegrowers Association
  • Uncover the story behind Tamber Bey Vineyards’ Pinot Noir offerings and learn how challenges like Covid-19 and wildfires have shaped their approach
  • Dive deep into the essence of Mes Filles Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • Barry shares the sensory experience of a well-crafted vintage with a strong sense of place, discussing the magic that makes each sip special
  • Learn about Barry’s motivations behind pursuing the art of crafting Pinot Noir, exploring the intricate process, and the satisfaction of collaborating with other wineries
  • Delve into Tamber Bey’s Radian Vineyard Pinot Noir, discussing wood treatment, case production, and its origin in the Sta. Rita Hills
  • Barry introduces listeners to Tamber Bey’s Pinot Noir from the UV Vineyard, sharing insights into its distinct characteristics and influences
  • Uncover the deep connection between endurance horse racing, polo, and Barry Waitte’s profound passion for both horses and winemaking

In this episode with Barry Waitte

Step into the world of wine, weather, and passion with Barry Waitte of Tamber Bey Vineyards. Barry delves into the intriguing world of winemaking, sharing his insights on how historic storms and rain rejuvenate Napa Valley, his strategies to prepare for a wet season, and the latest developments at Tamber Bey.

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Barry Waitte, President, Founder, and Vintner at Tamber Bey Vineyards. Join us for a sip of knowledge as we explore the nuances of Pinot Noir, from Mes Filles Vineyard to Radian Vineyard, discussing how this varietal embodies terroir and crafting techniques. With tales of custom crush winemaking and a deep passion for horses, Barry’s experiences paint a rich tapestry of dedication, innovation, and the love of the land.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

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[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of Legends Behind the Craft podcast. On the show, I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, so today’s episode is a pretty special one.

We’re actually catching up with Barry Waitte, owner and vintner at Tamber Bey. Barry, how’s it going?

[00:00:15] Barry Waitte: Hey Drew, nice to see you. It’s going great. A beautiful day in Napa. It was great driving up the valley, coming to work. Sun is out. We’re, we’re hitting in the mid-sixties, so we like, life’s good right now. It’s good.

[00:00:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, that’s great. Yeah. We’re recording this right at the beginning of February, after a month of historic rainstorms.

[00:00:36] Barry Waitte: Big time. Big time. And, but you know if I could just kind of lead off with that, but much needed. Now there were some areas that got hit pretty hard, so I don’t want to kind of, you know, minimize some of the issues that some people had, you know, up and down specifically Northern California.

I think Southern California got hit pretty hard too. But, you know, it, it, you know, from, from Napa’s perspective, and at least in some places here in Northern California, it was first very welcome. If we call back historically, this is when we used to get all our rain, so it’s not unheard of though we had a few of these and I, I just love the name that the weather people go these atmospheric rivers. Like that’s, that’s pretty ominous of

[00:01:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It does, it does seem like that name’s popping up more often now.

[00:01:18] Barry Waitte: Yeah. Yeah. And every once in a while, they say an atmospheric river’s coming and you know, I look out the window and I go, well, yeah, it’s raining. I mean, that’s not that big a deal. But we did have some big ones come in and I know I, ’cause I checked it over the weekend.

Last year up until last weekend in the rain season, which for us starts in November, we had nine and a half inches of rain. This year we are already at 28.

[00:01:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s amazing.

[00:01:43] Barry Waitte: And so we are right at the level that would be normal, but we still have some more rain season to go, and I understand it’s gonna get a little wet again in about a week, but pretty normal stuff as far as I’m understanding.

But you know, the most important thing with that is the ground is getting very happy and our reservoirs, the big ones are, are filling. The small ones are full. There’s a lot of energy being put into the ground. And, you know, after two vintages that were really, you know, substandard as far as yields are concerned, this, this may be, what we need to really kind of push us back up into some normalcy of, of yields and, and vineyards. We need it, you know, 20 was a disaster for, you know, from smoking, fire and all that kind of stuff. So, you know, we’re, we’re kind of looking forward to that. So,

[00:02:31] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s a pendulum and we need to see it kind of swing back to the middle for a little while.

[00:02:34] Barry Waitte: It is, it is, you know, you just don’t know how long those, what those wags go, but, it’s usually a two to three-year pendulum. I think you’re, you’re absolutely right. So this, this may be the, the upswing that we get back and if we can get back to having an, an 18 and 19. Kind of back-to-backs, you know, toast to all that, that would be a great bit of fun.

[00:02:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, absolutely.

[00:02:55] Barry Waitte: So we’re doing lots of planning right now in, in that, in our vineyards of both how to manage this, this energy that’s gonna come out. There’s certain things that we do different from if we’re in a drought. So we’re thinking about that. We’re not actually implementing any of that at the moment. But

[00:03:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What sort of things do you do to prepare for sort of a wet season spring?

[00:03:13] Barry Waitte: So the first thing is we are planting cover crops. Or have or had, and we started it last month, but specifically cover crops that will assist in taking moisture out of the ground, right? Specifically the tops.

So, for example, there’s some long, what we call long rooted grasses that we can put in that will help kind of dry out the top of the soil because there’s no good in having the root systems kind of go back up to the surface, right?

[00:03:41] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure.

[00:03:41] Barry Waitte: We want them to go down. So if we put this competition at the top with these type of cover crops that will grow for three to five months, that’s a, that’s a real positive thing.

And that’s kind of been done. So now we’re starting to see it grow. And, and they’re just grasses for all intents and purposes. Inside the vineyard it’s just mostly conversation right now about the pruning that we will, that is going on right now. And how do we do that?

You know, there’s a number of cases where if there’s that much energy, you know, how do we let the plant exercise that energy as opposed to kind of build-up. And so in many cases where we do what is called cane pruning. Cane pruning is where we literally take it down to the bare minimum.

We don’t use the existing cordone. You know, way far out. We actually cut that up. And then use just last year’s growth as now the so-called cordone line in some vines we’re actually putting a third one out. Right? So it’s usually two, but now we’re putting the third one out if there’s enough energy.

Because there’s so much energy. Right. So it just helps the plant just manipulate that energy in more places. So anyway, those are two examples. One on plant and one on the ground, that we’re doing. And then we just kind of, kind of wait and see what Mother Nature does over the next couple of months.

[00:04:58] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. Yeah. I was excited aside, we kind of jumped in. I was so excited to catch up. To the listeners, we talked last back in about this time last year, and the episode aired in June. So if you wanna learn all about Barry Waitte and his tech history and how he’s founded his winery, tune into that episode. Today we’re, today, we’re catching up. So, Barry, since we last talked, it was back in April, what’s the latest with Tamber Bey and yourself?

[00:05:23] Barry Waitte: Well, what’s the latest with everything that’s going on. Latest with Tamber Bey is we are taking on a few new vineyards this, this harvest which are kind of neat.

[00:05:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Cool.

[00:05:33] Barry Waitte: We’re progressing, you know, in my tech days I was born and bred, product marketing guy. And so, and what I love about product marketing is the creativity and making stuff. And I’m not the engineer making it, but I’m the one that transitions everything from the making all the way through the packaging and the pricing and getting it out there.

So we’re in that stage right now in figuring out what are we gonna do in 2023 in the harvest. And so we have a, we have two new vineyards that I’m willing to kind of talk about that are really exciting.

[00:06:05] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Glad to hear about it.

[00:06:06] Barry Waitte: Yeah so one is a vineyard down in the Santa Maria area, so I’m, I’m jumping out of, of Napa for, for this. And there’s a great vineyard that’s just east of the Santa Maria city called Bien Nacido.

[00:06:19] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, yeah.

[00:06:20] Barry Waitte: Yeah. It’s, it’s pretty popular. It’s pretty big. So, and we’re lucky to get in there and we’re gonna pull some Chardonnay off and, and, and make, what I would suggest is a real kind of a, a French Burgundy style that’ll be treated with about 12 to 14 months in French oak.

We’ll actually ferment the juice in the barrels. So that’s our intention. So it’s gonna have, and we do this with another vineyard here in Napa, but what’s gonna be great is the, the two different terroir are so different even though stylistically they’ll go in the same direction, they will be very two different wines.

The other one it is, it is truly exciting and in some respects I’ve, I’ve kind of bit the bullet on this one. I’ve signed up with a, with a, with a colleague a, a friend of mine so to speak. And his, but he’s one of the living legends here in Napa Valley. And that’s, Andy Beckstoffer.

And so Tamber Bay is going to start making some Beckstoffer juice.

[00:07:16] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, that’s exciting.

[00:07:17] Barry Waitte: Now we won’t yeah, we won’t see that for three years, right? Because it’s Cabernet and so forth. But there’s an Oakville vineyard that is very close to where I live, and I’ve watched it for years and I’ve watched it develop, and there’s been some new plantings that took place four or five years ago.

So I want to jump into that. And it’s a place called Missouri Hopper, for people who come up Napa Valley and really kind of take that corner right outta Ville and go into Oakville it’s right there on the highway off to the left. And so we’re pretty excited about that. So from a planting and, and, and, strategic perspective, that’s pretty exciting.

These are, these will be new products in our, in our line. We’ve see ’em for a couple years, but this is how we have to think about this in our business.

[00:07:58] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I have to keep an out for those. And you’re still president of the Oakville Winegrowers Association.

[00:08:04] Barry Waitte: I am president of the Oakville Winegrowers Association. I was honored. I, I am the smallest winery that has ever had that representative seat. And I sit next to the CEO’ of Opus and the CEO of Far Niente and, you know, other really, you know, premier places. And so I, I just have a, a, a great bit of fun. I mean, we’re hanging out with the best of the best.

And we’ve got some neat things planning. So the idea of the associations, the AVAs, and there’s 19 of them in Napa Valley. The idea of these associations is to promote that particular AVA, so the Oakville AVA, and as president, I’ve embarked on a campaign that’s pretty cool. We’re gonna take Oakville to London.

[00:08:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Really?

[00:08:48] Barry Waitte: We’re gonna take Oakville London. So the, for years there’s been an event here called The Taste of Oakville. There’s been 30, 35 wineries represented into that. It’s a one-day tasting event. Some people suggest it’s one of the best tastings in Napa Valley because it’s just all Oakville and it’s from Screaming Eagle to Harlan, to Tamber Bey, to Paradigm.

I mean, it’s just insane experience. Because it’s all the big, big Cabernets. But for a couple years in the past we’ve taken it to New York, but this year we’re gonna take it to London and because I think we really want to start promoting the Oakfield brand internationally. And in London, if you’re gonna do international, you gotta start somewhere.

And no better place than to do London. So we’ve got a couple tastings. Plant, planted out there that are gonna take place in the, in the institution of Pall Mall, which is about a 250-year-old wine institution there. And bring in some of the breasts there. So that’s kind of a fun thing that’s going on.

[00:09:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, that’s super exciting. Super.

[00:09:46] Barry Waitte: So that, that’s good. So for, for Cabernet. And

[00:09:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Last time we talked a lot about Cabernet, but today we’ve got a special Pinot Noir tasting and we’re gonna shift the conversation.

[00:09:56] Barry Waitte: Yeah, exactly. I was kind of saving up for that one.

[00:09:58] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah. Oh, I spoiled.

[00:09:59] Barry Waitte: ‘Cause, you know. Okay. So these are decisions that were made years ago, two to three years ago. And, and, Derek Flegal, our head winemaker and I got together and we kind of challenged each other on what we can do, what we can do better. And again, my corporate experience kind of tells me if you’re not thinking of change and progressing forward, then you’re actually just going backwards somehow. ‘Cause, you know, competition and all kinds of other things could be overwhelming you. So, I really challenged Derek to rethink our Pinot Noir program, our red Burgundy program. And we had three vineyards that we’ve been playing with for years.

And, you know, we were getting good representative scores, you know, low nineties, 94 was one. You know, so we’re happy with that in some respects. But we used Covid and the 20 fires and smoke that we were victims of and so forth to say, okay, let’s just hit the reset if, if we didn’t have the legacy to deal with.

And I don’t own any Pinot Noir fruit, so it’s not coming outta my vineyard. If we don’t have that legacy, how do we move forward and raise the bar? And I think we did that. And so that was a couple years ago. So these were fruit that we’re gonna talk about. It was picked in 2021 from three very distinct vineyards.

And so I’m excited to, to get ’em out ’cause I mean we are just introducing them to the world and these vineyards are, are kind of well known, especially two of them are extremely well known in the world. So, and you’ve got the bottles?

[00:11:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes. Today. Today we’ve got the Radian Vineyard from Santa Rita Hills down south. And in contrast, we’ve got the Mes Filles Vineyard in Sonoma Coast.

[00:11:40] Barry Waitte: Yes. So, two fabulous vineyards. So let’s start with the, talking about Mes Filles. There you are. They’re in our, what we call our signature collection bottles which are, are just beautiful silk screen. Or,

[00:11:51] Bianca Harmon: And have these been released, Barry to the public?

[00:11:53] Barry Waitte: Just released? Yes.

[00:11:55] Bianca Harmon: Okay. Because at the time when we discussed doing this, they hadn’t been released. So

[00:11:59] Barry Waitte: Yeah, so just released and, and available. So we can talk about those. So this is two of three that we have. So let’s talk about first of all, Mes Filles, Mes Filles in French, I think it means something like either the girls or the sisters or something like that.

This is a vineyard just outside of Sebastopol. And a lot, I found this vineyard because I’m a big fan of Lynmar, Lynmar Winery over there.

[00:12:25] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, absolutely.

[00:12:26] Barry Waitte: And they’ve been making fruit, but interestingly they get fruit from this vineyard, but they don’t call it Mes Filles. And so I was over there doing a tasting with their team, and it just came in conversation.

It says, where do you get this? And they said this, that, and so forth. And I said, “Well, isn’t, isn’t that the Mes Filles Vineyard?” And they said, “Oh, yes, but we don’t use that name.” So with that as an impetus, we decided to go there. And it took about a year plus for us to kind of really get an engagement going because they were gonna have some fruit available.

And so we succeeded in doing that. Now Mes Filles is in an interesting area that gets a lot of character of wind and, and coolness and that’s those are some, some really good characters in growing for a Pinot Noir. And so I’m, I’m really enjoying that. We’ve made 330 cases, so it’s not big,

[00:13:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Very limited

[00:13:16] Barry Waitte: In that respect but, but this is the biggest of the three so there’s some availability of that.

[00:13:21] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, that is how for the vineyard. How large is that vineyard?

[00:13:25] Barry Waitte: I’m gonna tell you. Oh, 14 acres.

[00:13:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Real small.

[00:13:30] Barry Waitte: Yeah, yeah. Real small. And of course, we’re just one of, I don’t know actually how many people purchase outta that. But we’ve got our own section. So what’s really cool and, and how we kind of work, when we work with growers, is we want our rows.

[00:13:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That was the que, almost in the Burgundy model, where everybody’s got a little bit of romany content that you’ve got your six or seven vines.

[00:13:51] Barry Waitte: Right. And if, and then here, like it’s hilly. I mean it goes uphill and we’re on kind of the side of a hill. And the fruit on the other side of the hill is very different because it is on the other side of the hill. So you have different influences of sun. Some temperature may be where the wind is so forth.

And so they’re, they’re just very different pockets, that go onto this. So, it’s a, a little bit of a north, northwest facing, so it gets a bit of that afternoon sun, which is good. Lot of wind out there. And, and because of some of the proximity of where it is, it’s a, it’s, it’s a cool climate.

And so, you know, we’re pulling mid to late season for what would be Pinot. Off of this, and first vintage. So that’s exciting. So your rows are locked in.

[00:14:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Do you do the vineyard management there too, or just have the locked-in rows?

[00:14:33] Barry Waitte: We just have locked-in rows. One of the criteria that we have internally is when we’re dealing with third-party growers.

Which right now, I source from eight different vineyards. Soon to be 10 ’cause I got two more coming this year. Is their willingness to work with us in our thoughts about growing and, you know, look at, let’s get down into the business side. This is a yin and yang pulling because we pay them by the ton. Right?

So it’s how much they produce. But many of our recommendations have a tendency to let’s say we drop fruit. We, we want to kind of minimize how much fruit is on the vine so that all the proper energy gets to the fruit that’s there. So there’s a bit of a yin and a yang and you can kind of tell that it’s like, you know, let’s, let’s drop a little fruit for all kinds of reasons.

And that’s kind of counter to their business model. So we wanna make sure that there’s at least a good rapport and a willingness to discuss that. Now, at the end of the day, they know that Mes Filles is gonna be on that bottle. So it’s their brand. And they’re looking at, at us the same way we’re looking at them is the quality of their growing and the quality of our winemaking together should make a fantastic wine.

And so that’s the relationship that gets us forward and to prosper well with this. So you’ve got it open.

[00:15:55] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I’ve got it open. Excited. I have to try as we’re talking about this, so,

[00:16:00] Barry Waitte: For this sake. I’m gonna, I’m gonna live vicariously through your, through your, your vision here of this.

[00:16:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Just a beautiful lot. I almost, like a very rich perfume on the nose. Very

[00:16:15] Barry Waitte: Yeah. It’s got a great forwardness to it. It’s very bright. It’s true to what I think is the Pinot grape. It and if I had to suggest it’s, it’s kind of mid, what I always call mid right. And to me, that means it’s got just robust cherry kind of on the darker side, but there’s gonna be a, you know, some good hints of blue fruit coming in.

[00:16:35] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes.

[00:16:35] Barry Waitte: But kind of hinting. It’s not overbearing.

[00:16:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. You can taste it on the end. A little bit of that kind of a blue fruit, blueberry quality.

[00:16:42] Barry Waitte: Yep. Right on the mid-palate towards the, to the end part. At least on my side

As I said, we made 330 cases. It’s all French oak.

It’s different from our other models where we would do a bit of whole cluster fermentation. We did not in this, we didn’t think it was necessary. I think the fruit just speaks so beautifully for itself onto that. And we bottled it in August. First week in August. And just released it the last week in January.

[00:17:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Wow.

[00:17:10] Barry Waitte: So literally just a week and a half ago.

[00:17:13] Bianca Harmon: And is this available to the public or is it only available to members, or how are you doing that, Barry?

[00:17:18] Barry Waitte: Yeah, So it’s a new program and so if you go on our website, you’ll see ways to, to join into this. You could just buy the wine itself. But with only 330 cases, and I don’t think we’re going to be expanding that too big over the next couple years.

There’s a way to, to sign up so you can be in the allocation. As it goes forward, but it’s, it’s brand new. So we kind of, not only did we, have a clean slate on how we’re gonna produce it, we have a clean slate on how we’re gonna market it.

[00:17:45] Bianca Harmon: How you’re gonna sell it? Yeah.

[00:17:46] Barry Waitte: And how we’re gonna sell it. So it’s not a wine that we’ll put in distribution. You won’t see it out there in retailers and restaurants. It’s, again, 330 cases. It’s gonna. It’s gonna go,

[00:17:55] Bianca Harmon: It’ll go fast.

[00:17:56] Barry Waitte: I, I think so. I think so. Once we get it out there. We’re really pleased with this.

[00:18:02] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, we talked a lot last time, a lot about the sense of place, especially with Oakville and the Cabernet and I mean I’ve had a lot of Sonoma Pinot Noirs and this definitely has that kind of sense of place in that. I can’t say terroir ’cause I’m not that familiar with the Mes Filles Vineyard, but it definitely feels like it’s, it doesn’t just evoke like a, a generic Pinot aroma. It definitely, it smells identifiable. If I had enough of it, I could spot it blind.

[00:18:29] Barry Waitte: Yes. You know, Drew, I think that’s actually very indicative of really good Pinot fields. It is, it is the varietal that really embodies its terroir. Right? And all the things that influence it from sun and soil and rain and all these good things.

And even more so than the Cabernet grape. The Pinot grape is very sensitive to that. I mean, literally, I was, I was talking about the fruit on this side of the hill is gonna be very different from this side of the hill, and you would actually taste differences into that. And that’s, that’s indicative of the Pinot grape.

And then in this particular area, I think it really absorbs that into its flavor profile.

[00:19:07] Drew Thomas Hendricks: How was the 21 vintage in Sonoma?

[00:19:10] Barry Waitte: It was good. 21 was a good vintage. It’s I think it’s pretty highly rated by the critics just as far as the general overall vintage. We didn’t get the yields we wanted to get.

So we were about 75, 80% of our expectation. So that’s, you know, that’s not a disaster by any means. and then, you know, at sometimes, you know, vintner and specifically the growers we’re telling you, you know, when we’re short on yield, it’s actually beneficial to quality. Cause, you know, there’s a great quality quantity quotient in our business.

And so, if it was the opposite, if we had 120% of yield, there’s generally some sacrifice of quality into that just as far as the botany of the, of the plant. So again, 75, 80% on average, and then that was our expectation. But I think still a very good quality year. By what everybody’s telling me.

So that’s a good, good, good stuff.

[00:20:04] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, absolutely.

[00:20:06] Bianca Harmon: Where in the Sonoma coast area is this exactly?

[00:20:10] Barry Waitte: So it’s, it’s about a mile and a half outside, toward the, if I remember right, I’m usually not driving so I don’t, don’t say pay attention, but go to Sebastopol, and go a little bit west of that.

And, you know, you’re definitely in the hills.

[00:20:25] Bianca Harmon: It’s the perfect region for Pinot.

[00:20:27] Barry Waitte: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:20:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I’m really curious to see how this evolves. Over time in Pinot, I’ve sold a lot of Burgundy in my day and it’s selling the tougher vintages. It’s always the to, to the general consumer.

We always positioned it as a following a Pinot Noir producer is like almost like a marriage. You’re, you learn more about the wine and the bad times than you do in the good.

[00:20:48] Barry Waitte: Yep.

[00:20:49] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s really neat. You learn, you just learn all the idiosyncrasies and I can feel this is definitely a good vintage, but I can see that it’s got that sense of place and I can’t wait to see subsequent vintages come out and how, how they just, what the vineyard has to offer.

[00:21:04] Barry Waitte: Oh, likewise. You know, and Drew, as you know, and we talked about last time, you know, we’re mostly a Cabernet shop, so that’s where a lot of our customer base is and so forth. And where we were with our previous Pinot products, again we had three of them. All three from the Sonoma coast is I have a particular joy of showing Cabernet drinkers really good Pinot.

It’s just it, there’s a wake up here and, you know, qualitatively it is, you know, an expression of fruit that’s very similar except it’s, it’s got a different flavor profile. And to get people to understand that and to be educated by tasting something like this. I think it opens up a great horizon of a lot of our just basic Cab drinkers.

 Yes, I’m speaking to you. all you in Texas, we’re all our Cab guys, guys, and gals.

[00:21:59] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, for sure.

[00:21:59] Barry Waitte: I really enjoy that. But, you know, Mes Filles, and as we’re gonna talk about Radiant, they’ve got pretty big audiences on their own out of that. And that’s was part of our strategy is to get ahold of the vineyards that already have some name recognition, and some notoriety out there.

And that association for what we can do is, is good. Now, I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this, but we make wine for quite a few other wineries at my winery here. In what we call custom crush environment. And a third of them are Pinot products.

[00:22:28] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Really?

[00:22:28] Barry Waitte: So we’ve gotten really good at making Pinot just because all the way from, and I, I’ll, you know, blurt out one of the biggest names is Thomas Brown’s project called Rivers-Marie. Now he has his own winery now in Calistoga, but for eight years he made all his wine here at Tamber Bey and more than half of the bottles he produced were Pinot Noir.

We got a lot of good history and, you know, critical knowledge about how to make Pinot. And so that’s, you’re gonna, you’re gonna kind of see that in these bottles as they go forward.

[00:23:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Kind of the underground submarine just like kinda rising up and the secret Pinot houses.

[00:23:05] Bianca Harmon: Was there anything that drove you to really wanting to start making Pinot?

[00:23:10] Barry Waitte: You know, truth be told, with Thomas Brown in the house, and, you know, even though he has gotten most of his notoriety because of Cabernet, he is a Burghound. He is, he probably collects personally more. Red Burgundies than he does Cabernets. And he’s become now well known for what he’s doing in the, in the Pinot world.

But look at 7, 8, 9 years ago, that necessarily wasn’t the case. So look, we had the talent base. If we really got into discussion about, you know, how do you make really good wine? Well, you need two things and you need great terroir, you need soil and wind and all this kind of stuff.

And then you need really good people. At the end of the day, you need talent. And we had talent. And so, at the very beginning, we watched, Thomas make Pinot for himself, and he also had a couple other of his clients make wine here that were Pinot. And so, with that talent base here, let’s go.

How can I not participate? And I do very much enjoy Pinot Noirs. So to, to have that ability to do so is why we got into it. Quite frankly.

[00:24:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: In contrast, we’re gonna go down south to Santa Rita Hills. Sonoma now.

[00:24:16] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. I’m excited.

[00:24:17] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Talk to us about Radian and I mean I can tell you right now, the nose is a little spicier, a little has a little less of that bouquet that you get from the Sonoma fruit.

A little more, I use the wrong word. The grittiness that you get from down south, southern Pinot, it’s a little warmer area.

[00:24:32] Barry Waitte: Yes. So, it is warmer, definitely. So we’re gonna have a little bit bigger fruit and so forth. Radian is ownedwithin the Hilt winery, H I L T. And the Hilt is one of three wineries owned by a gentleman that we kind of know.

Depending on the circles that you hang with, and I say, no, not personally. But the Hilt is owned by the owner also owns two other wineries. One is called Jonata, which is a campaign that’s down again in, in the Central Coast area, but also a little vineyard here in Napa Valley called Screaming Eagle.

[00:25:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, really?

[00:25:10] Barry Waitte: It’s the same owner. And that owner is Stan Kroenke. And Stan is the owner of the LA Rams. He owns a couple other sports teams. He has been in Napa Valley for years and is the, let’s just call him the silent and money partner of Bill Harlan. And not that he, I don’t think he owns anything in the Harlan wine world directly.

But he is very much involved with Meadowood. And I believe also the Napa Valley Reserve, and again, these are projects of Bill and, and so forth. And so, you know, Bill came from the real estate development side, and this is where Stanhas done a lot of his, his work over time and success and so forth.

But, so we we’re, we’re getting, you know, we’re getting fruit from The Hilt project. And how we found this is virtue of Derek Flegal, our head winemaker. He befriended the, the winemaker there at The Hilt and basically said, you know, at some point when it’s available, you know, we’d love to come in.

Sure enough, same year for Mes Filles is we were able to get into Radian. Radian is a warmer climate. Again, just a kind of a lower hilly way that, you know, catches some good drift off the coast, but then, you know, holds that, that heat inside a little bit. So therefore, we get, a little bit, little bit more bigger fruit in there and you’re sensing spices and some other things.

[00:26:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Definitely darker fruit. And it’s got a, it has that area-specific aroma that I definitely get from that Central Coast area with the bramley is the wrong word, but it’s got a woody, woody noses to it. That’s not so much.

[00:26:49] Barry Waitte: Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Very much, very much. I’ll be honest with you, I had a 2019 Radian from The Hilt itself.

My wife went down with one of our other interests and that is playing polo. And she went down to get some lessons in the Santa Barbara area and she made a stop into The Hilt and so she brought home some goodies, which it’s well appreciated.

[00:27:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Where is the hilt located in there?

[00:27:15] Barry Waitte: Well, that’s a good question. I have, I have yet to be there. So Derek did all the road work to go down and do that. Now my wife has had the opportunity to go there. I understand the winery is absolutely gorgeous. It was architected by Howard Backen. Oh, who’s the architect of the stars here in Napa Valley, and actually who is our architect, you know, for here at Tamber Bey.

He is also architect of Bill Harlan and, you know, Ovid and all kinds of places. So she says it’s this spectacular small, small facility, but still just impeccably done. So it’s a good place to go hang out. You can get, get some good wines.

[00:27:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: For sure. Now, does this have the same wood treatment as Sonoma?

[00:27:54] Barry Waitte: Yeah. So, same wood, all French oak, and I believe that they are actually the same providers, purveyors of those. And I don’t have the names in front of me at the moment. I think Bel Air is certainly one of ’em, – is probably in the mix. But Derek really likes to divide up a vineyard like this or any of our wines into anywhere from three to five different barrels.

At the end of the day after however the gestation time is in a barrel. You know, even though you put the same fruit into the barrel at the end of 11 months, in this case, you have a little bit of variations in those wines, and then you blend them back. And that variation just brings all kinds of great complexity into a wine.

And so we have the luxury of doing that.

[00:28:38] Bianca Harmon: What’s the case production on this one?

[00:28:41] Barry Waitte: Now we’re, we’re headed south. Yeah. 240.We have asked for a little bit more fruit, but down there they were absolutely a victim of, of a smaller yield than we thought.

[00:28:51] Bianca Harmon: Do you think it’ll increase or?

[00:28:53] Barry Waitte: Well, I think we’re certainly hoping. We’re certainly hoping. And you know, I just read an interesting report as we talk about drought conditionsin California is the Central Coast, you know, from Monterey down to Santa Barbara has a officially come out of drought officially.

So all this rain that we’re having, Napa and north of San Jose is at a stage just before that. It got a lot better, no doubt. But the declaration is there’s a count a couple counties up on the Oregon border and the Central Coast are now technically designated out of drought.

So good for them.

[00:29:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I believe it. They got like, what, eight inches of rain that one day. My friend lives right next to the polo fields in -, where your wife was?

[00:29:39] Barry Waitte: Yes. Yes.

[00:29:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: A little culvert that runs right between the polo fields and the, that housing development is where he lives, and it was a full river that day.

[00:29:47] Barry Waitte: I remember reading that Monte Cino, and of course this is where, you know, Oprah Winfrey and Harry and Meghan. They had to evacuate the entire city.

Town. It’s not a city, because it kind of on the side of the hill. And maybe they’re,

[00:30:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well, I also just wondered, are they evacuating them just because they’re Oprah Winfrey and they’re, No, because six years to that day.

[00:30:08] Bianca Harmon: I’m just kidding.

[00:30:09] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It was weird. The rainstorm, six years to that day, hit that exact same day when they had all those landslides.

[00:30:15] Bianca Harmon: Yeah I was being sarcastic.

[00:30:16] Barry Waitte: Oh, seriously? Wow. Wow. Okay.

[00:30:20] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It was weird timing. The exact, it was to the day

[00:30:24] Bianca Harmon: Now I mean, it’s been great. Honestly, spread out of California snow pack has been great. I mean, it’s. It’s been really great weather-wise, you know, getting the weather that we need, the rain, the snow.

[00:30:37] Barry Waitte: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It is fantastic. And we’re hearing, you know, every Shasta, Trinity, and Oroville, the big, big, big reservoirs have really risen. So it’s gonna create a lot of calmness, I hope. You know, in our weather flow of of water right now, you know, I got introduced to theSanta Rita Hills area when my bank of all people introduced me to the general manager of sea smoke.

[00:31:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah.

[00:31:02] Barry Waitte: And the reason why we got introduced is because he’s also an equestrian. So it, it really had nothing to do with wine. Except that, that’s how they’re, we had a banking relationship with Silicon Valley Bank as our wine had a little plug there. But they, we got together, and his name is Victor Gallegos.

He’s still there, still the gm. And so I, you know, obviously, got a tour of their place and how they’re growing and the history of why they picked that particular area. And of course, the success of Sea Smoke is, is now legendary. And so I’ve been really enjoying Santa Rita Hill style wines.

 And then of course it has just exploded down there. So that’s the reason why the hills, that’s, you know, let’s put it this way. Stan doesn’t do anything that isn’t first class. He wants the best of the best and, you know, for whatever he can afford it. So, and so he chose to, to do it there in Santa Rita Hills. So, and now we’re benefactories of that. That’s pretty cool.

Both these vineyards that you’re saying, we’re now in discussions of a long-term contract so we can stay with them for as long as we possibly can. You know, that first year, you know, Drew, as I was talking about is, you know, we kind of test that relationship. Are we able to, you know, make recommendations and farming, and they’re looking at us too, like, are you gonna make a good wine?

I think we’ve, we’ve proven each other out. So now we’d like to get into a longer term agreement. And make this, you know, part of our permanent program.

[00:32:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s exciting. They have both have, and I want to tell anybody that’s listening right now, if you’re looking to like, introduce yourself to a Pinot Noir, these two have such a dramatic sense of place.

Like if you wanna understand Sonoma Coast Pinot versus Santa Rita Hills Pinot, these are two great bottles to, to prove that tasting. If you’re going for a Psalm or a W set, I mean figure it. I mean, these, these are great examples of each place.

[00:32:51] Barry Waitte: Thank you for that. I we’ll take that as a compliment.

So true, so true. To do that. Lemme just give a small plug to our third Pinot, which just released. There is a reason, because we’re holding it back. But this one is got talk about some namesake. So, it is the UV vineyard, the initials UV. Stands for Ulises Valdez. Ulises Valdez in some people’s minds is the – of Sonoma.

Now, he doesn’t own a lot of land like Andy does, but he’s, and Ulises Valdez has since passed recently, so his family still takes over. But he’s considered, you know, one of the great farmers and vineyard managers of Sonoma. But this is by the namesake of his vineyard, right? The UV vineyard.

And I, so I have a fun story with this. Now we, I’ve been following the UV for a while and so again, serendipitously all three of these came available at the same time so we can, we can get fruit off it in 21 and we had just signed a one year with an evergreen contract. Okay. So we’re gonna get wine in 21.

Signed it. It may have been about this time of year. And it had to have been, well, anyway, you’ll get the notion of this. So then Wine Spectator comes out with their top 100 wines of the world. Number two was UV Pinot Noir made by my buddy down the street, Aubert. Now Aubert mostly a Chardonnay shop, and it’s here in Calistoga, but they got the number two wine in the world by Wine Spectator.

 It’s right. And we had just signed a contract and I’ll tell you his blocks Aubert are right next to ours, or I should say we were successful in getting the ones right next to his, talk about association. It’s great.

[00:34:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Talk about timing six weeks later.

[00:34:38] Barry Waitte: Here’s the bad news. The bad news is the fruit was so thin we only made 140 cases. It’s minor compared now we kind of asked for the same amount. We want to get to our and for your audience’s purposes. We wanted to get to six tons of fruit, and a ton will equate to about 60 cases.

But we got half that, you know, if not a little bit less. So it’s minimal. And why we are holding it is maybe a way, I’m gonna phrase this in my naive way. The UV is a Cabernet lover’s Pinot is so big and so voluptuous of this dark red. Being cherry, but then just encompassed all the way with plum notions to it, that it just needs a little bit more time in a bottle before we’re gonna let it sneak out the door.

So our strategy is to have Mes Filles out and Radian out and you know, kind of accommodate our customers and develop our Pinot program with that. And then I think by early to mid-summer, the UV will make its appearance and then we’ll have our three, three lineups going, and we’re can’t wait to keep picking, keep making it.

[00:35:56] Bianca Harmon: That’s fantastic.

[00:35:57] Barry Waitte: Anyway, that’s my plug, that’s my plug for it.

[00:36:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: The best way to get the UV is really join the club.

[00:36:03] Barry Waitte: It’s to join the club. It’s to start, it’s like anything else. You just gotta get in the, in the program. Suggest to a lot of kids who are trying to get into homes.

I said, man, I know it sounds expensive and so forth, but you just gotta get in the game. ‘Cause once you’re in, then you can afford to kinda move up and around. I think the same thing with these kinds of programs and I’m hoping we get more fruit to play with so we don’t have to be so kind of restrictive and secret, so to speak.

But this first year, was a cha was a challenge to get as much fruit as we did so, but we’re happy we’re here. We’re out the gate. We’re doing it.

[00:36:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well the proof’s definitely in the bottle for sure. Proof’s in the bottle.

[00:36:41] Barry Waitte: Good, good. Good.

[00:36:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: As we’re, as we’re wrapping down, I wanna catch up on one other thing, you were talking about your wife and endurance horseback riding.

[00:36:49] Barry Waitte: Yes.

[00:36:49] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Any notable, notable wins the last year or notable events?

[00:36:53] Barry Waitte: No. You know, it’s, yeah. Again, so back to your audience, and my wife and I both, you know, did this sport called endurance horse racing, which is 50 to a hundred miles single day races on one horse. And otherwise known as a long day. Right, so 50 mile race, if we’re actually racing depending on terrain, we could do it in five to seven hours. And then you just have to two exit, at least for a hundred-mile race and many a hundred-mile races, you start in the dark and you end in the dark just ’cause it takes all day to get there. It’s an extreme sport. And so, I officially retired two years ago. COVID kind of took the wind outta my sail and it, and it is an extreme sport physically. It’s, it’s a lot of work.

So I did my year, I was, I did it for about 22, 23 years. Jennifer refused to acknowledge her retirement, but last year we got into this new sport and it’s called polo.

[00:37:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah.

[00:37:45] Barry Waitte: And it’s the complete opposite of what endurance is. Polo is in my definition, it’s hockey on a horse. Right?

It’s a ball sport, whereas endurance isn’t, you gotta put it so-called in the net, so to speak. And by the way, polo is full contact. Man it is, there are rules that allow you to just go right on into another horse and

[00:38:07] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well get it, get in there and get out. Yeah.

[00:38:09] Barry Waitte: Get, get it right and, and do that.

And so, we started to do it a little over a year ago and just fell in love with it and so much so my wife abandoned me for a week and went down to Santa Barbara to, to kind of do some stuff. I couldn’t go.

[00:38:21] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What a fun transition. I would love to do polo.

[00:38:25] Barry Waitte: Yeah. Polo’s neat. And there’s a couple variations. There’s the big field polo. There’s a thing called arena polo, which is a little bit more contained ’cause it’s in just a small arena. Andbut here’s what I really like about polo. That’s different from endurance ’cause, you know, at the end of a 50-mile, 7,500-mile ride, man, I just wanna go to bed.

I’m tired. Polo’s not like that. Is all about the party. Yeah. You, you play. You play your match. And, you know, it’s a reason why Ralph Lauren really enjoys that name Polo. It has quite a cache to it. And so, you can’t wait to just get to the finish of the game.

‘Cause, it’s, it’s time to clink up your rose or whatever you’re doing and enjoy. So,

[00:39:09] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it sounds, it sounds like a perfect match to a, to a winery. And we, we had a winery on, was it James King?

[00:39:16] Bianca Harmon: They have a whole entire polo grounds. And on the weekends, I mean, and it’s free for anybody in there to come out and watch Polo, but they also in a winery.

[00:39:23] Barry Waitte: Where is this? I need to know where is it.

[00:39:24] Bianca Harmon: It’s in Virginia.

[00:39:26] Barry Waitte: Okay.

[00:39:27] Bianca Harmon: It’s in, it’s in Virginia. So It’s free to go and watch Polo, but they also have a winery so you can be out there purchasing their wines you can picnic in the,

[00:39:38] Barry Waitte: That’s just it. You just, you just back up your car, your SUV or something and you just,

[00:39:42] Bianca Harmon: And so it’s basically a whole family day.

[00:39:45] Barry Waitte: Yep. Yep. Now we belong to a club right now. ‘Cause you have to kind of do it that way here in California and it’s in Petaluma.

[00:39:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And so as, as we started getting better and started playing what we call club Chuckers. Their period. This is such, this is why it’s such a bizarre sport. Their periods are called Chuckers. How can you not like a sport that’s called Chucker? How many Chuckers in a match?

[00:40:09] Barry Waitte: Well, at the league, we are playing in four, but if you get to the big leagues, it’s seven.

And here’s the a Chucker. Seven and a half minutes. That’s it. But you’re going fast, man. You are, you are exhausted in that seven and a half minutes. In many cases, you get a new horse because you’ve kind of worn your horse out onto that. But it, you’re, you know, you’re absolutely right.

You just kind of back right up to the whole event and you kind of watch it going on. And sometimes between Chuckers, they’ll allow the folks to go out and help repair the divots that the horses have made. Of course, you, you do that with a glass of champagne in your hand. You can’t do it otherwise.

So it’s a, it’s a great sport and for us, Drew, you know, my wife and I have been into horses. She longer than me and me, I’m 24, 25 years into it. It’s just an extension of something that we absolutely adore. We’re very passionate about the horses. That we have and just horse riding and so forth.

And you know,I won’t show you, but you know, I’ve got my horse riding gear on. It’s later this afternoon. I’m gonna go out and jump on some ponies and start getting ’em exercise ’cause they haven’t had much in the last couple months ’cause of the rain.

[00:41:11] Bianca Harmon: My daughter would be extremely envious. She is really wants to go horseback riding all the time.

[00:41:18] Barry Waitte: All I’m gonna say is I’m sorry for that. ‘Cause soon as the kids get into it, man, mom, and dad are shelling out the butt.

[00:41:23] Bianca Harmon: I know. I had a horse growing up, so.

[00:41:27] Barry Waitte: Yep. But to come full circle, you know the name Tamber Bey is the name of my first two Arabian horses.

And the logo on there, that’s on the bottles and everywhere else.

[00:41:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s for everyone to see here. We got the,

[00:41:39] Barry Waitte: Yeah, that’s Bayamo. That’s my first horse. He’s still alive. He’s 26 years old. He’s very retired. He’s, he’s, he’s earned it.

He’s earned just hanging out and being taken care of. So horses are in our blood as well as wine.

[00:41:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That is awesome, Barry. It’s been so good catching up with you. Before we leave, is there anything else you’d like to tell the audience?

[00:42:01] Barry Waitte: Wow. Well, a little bit just that, you know, we’re here for you.

Up here in, we’re out of Calistoga. Outside of having great wines, when you come to Tamber Bey, it’s serendipitous to our conversation. It’s a really wonderful experience and very unique. And so we’d love to have people up here to kind of do it.

[00:42:18] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And when you do, just ask for me if I’m here, I’d love to come see you. Let’s drink some Pinot together and Cabernet and just, just have a fantastic time. But other than that, I just wish everybody, a great year. Let’s make 2023 fantastic. Let’s do it here. Here’s to that.

[00:42:33] Bianca Harmon: Here to that. Cheers, Barry.

[00:42:35] Barry Waitte: I’ll be with you a little bit later after I get off my horse this afternoon, I’ll join you. Thank you both of you for the opportunity to talk to your audience and good to see you both.

[00:42:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Great. Have a great ride, Barry.

[00:42:49] Barry Waitte: Thank you. Cheers everybody.

[00:42:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Bye.