We are tremendously fortunate - on many levels - to have known and worked with George Besson Jr. and his exceptional vineyards for twenty years. George's late father, George Sr. purchased the grenache vineyard and farmhouse just after WWII on a gently north-facing rocky slope. These non-irrigated vines, planted on their own roots in 1910, sit a short distance from the start of the Santa Cruz Mountains, but several dozen feet too low to qualify for the appellation. Walking through the vines with George, one senses his deep affection and respect for the land and the vines, and his belief in man's subordinate role to nature in determining the ultimate quality of the grapes grown there. As a consequence of the age of the vines, the lack of irrigation, and the conservative farming practices, the quantity of grapes grown there is quite small - rarely if ever over 2 tons/acre.
A mile and a half to the west, and that much closer to the Monterey Bay coastline that lies on the other side of the Hecker Pass Gap, is the Besson's Home Ranch property. Purchased from Italian bootleggers by George's grandfather in 1925, there nonagenarian Zinfandel planted in 1922 coexists in unlikely juxtaposition with Pinot up against the eastern face of the Santa Cruz Mountains, again a little too low--and literally on the wrong side of the road-- to qualify for the appellation. Tended for 3 generations, the Home Ranch's granitic and sandy loam soils produce Spinal Tap Stonehenge-sized pinot berries on very small clusters.
On the other side of George's house, the ungrafted old vine zinfandel benefits from morning and afternoon sun and the unusually fresh marine-moderated night that permits full expression and flavor development without requiring raisination and ruination by fire-breathing degrees of alcohol.
We are honored to continue the long legacy of a commitment to the wine and spirits business at the Besson sites.