Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Boeschen Vineyards

Boeschen Vineyards is an enchanting little winery, with pleasant, charming owners, wonderful wine, one of the loveliest wine caves I've seen, and a garden that you would usually only see in magazines. Advance appointments are, however, essential.

Boeschen Vineyards is in the St. Helena District in Napa County just off Silverado Trail.  It was founded in 1999, and for several years they sold their grapes to other wineries. Their underground, wine cave was completed in 2006 and houses the entire winery.  The gardens at Boeschen date back to 1890 and Susan Boeschen has done much to restore the gardens to what they might have been like back then.  Outside the cave Boeschen Vineyards seems more like a botanical garden than a winery with all of the diverse plants they have and the winery itself being totally in a wine cave.  Boeschen is very much a family winery, and Doug Boeschen conducts tours and is also the primary wine maker. The Boeschen family runs the business, performs all of the cellar work, and is actively involved in the vineyard.

Entry sign

The estate has a long and very interesting history, the primary house having been built in 1890 with a Russian princess living there as the rumored mistress of a famous industrialist.  It was also a prune and walnut orchard, a camellia nursery and a Christmas tree farm.

Entry gate

At Boeschen Vineyards, great emphasis is put on sustainable farming. Only organic fertilizers are used. They do not till the vineyard because of the potential for erosion.  A major problem with voles and gophers was solved by putting up owl boxes. They do everything they can to protect the ecosystem and were the ninth vineyard in Napa to receive the Fish Friendly Farming certificate from the Napa County Ag Commissioner, the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the National Marine Fisheries Service. 

Rose arbor

They do not source any fruit from other vineyards and do not have vineyards in other locations.  All of their wines come from the grapes they grow on their six and  a half acres and amounts to about 600 cases per year total. Although they grow mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, they also grow Bordeaux blend varietals they use in the Carrera Estate Blend and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon plus the grapes for their Sauvignon Blanc.

Large rose bush in bloom

In addition to the beautiful gardens and lovely wine caves which you will see during the tour, you will also have the pleasure of Doug Boeschen's charming company as he personally conducts the informal tour through this Shagri-La of a vineyard and will have the good fortune of tasting one or more of their wines in their tasting room on the upper level of the wine cave.

Double rose arbors

Prior to our visit, which, of course, is by reservation only, I read everything I could find about Boeschen Vineyards on the Internet.  They produce an Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, a Cabernet Sauvignon  blend called the Carrera Estate Blend , an Estate Sauvignon Blanc and a Merlot based Rose called Katie Rose. None of these are available at restaurants or stores and often sell out completely to members of the Boeschen Vineyards wine club. Usually there are no wines available for purchase to the general public even when visiting the winery.  Given such demand, I was surprised that any wine at all was available for tasting.  Secretly I kept hoping that if we did taste some it might be the Estate Cab or Sauvignon Blanc.

Tasting room in wine cave

The wine we were able to sample was the Boeschen 2009 Carrera Estate Blend at $70, which is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Petit Verdot with the remainder being other Bordeaux blend varietals.  It sees about 60% French oak.  This is not one of those big, bold, tannic Napa Cabs that you will need to cellar away for a dozen years or more, nor is it the very ripe, fruit intense, highly extracted Napa Cab that Robert Parker seems to have made popular.  The Carrera starts out with a fantastic cherry aroma that is a total delight to the senses.  On the palate it is medium bodied with bright cherry and well integrated tannins and acid.  It is rather smooth and what is often referred to as "elegant" (an over used term.)  The finish is long and refreshingly clean.  I really enjoyed it.  Unfortunately we could not buy a bottle.

English style hedges & roses

All of their wines were sold out, and we would not have been able to taste anything if Doug hadn't put aside some of the Carrera just for visitors to taste.  We did get to hear a tantalizing story of how their Sauvignon Blanc came in first in a tasting, but we were not able to taste or purchase it.  Obviously Boeschen Vineyards does not need any more marketing or publicity, and it is extremely generous of the Boeschen family to put any wine aside for visitors to taste when there is such a high demand for it.

Unpainted end of wine cave

If you decide to visit this little Garden of Eden, you might want to do so in the early spring when their ancient Lady Banks rose is in bloom.  It seems to branch forever into the huge trees next to it. Or you might want to visit  later when all of the climbing roses draped over arches are in bloom.  Or you could go for the fall colors.   Our visit was magical and delightful and I'd love to return with my wife when the roses are in bloom.  Perhaps I'll even be fortunate enough to be able to taste their Sauvignon Blanc.

3242 Silverado Trail
St. Helena, CA 94574
Date of visit: November 13, 2012


  1. TJ,

    I'm not sure that I've heard of Boeschen--thanks for putting it on my radar. It looks like a beautiful place to visit. Kudos to a small production winery producing wine that's in high demand for hosting tasters!



  2. We will be visiting more small production family wineries. It is such a different experience from visiting larger wineries. Meeting directly with owners and winemakers is a very special experience, much different than meeting with hired hosts, however pleasant. Small is beautiful!


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