Boeschen Vineyards is a very small winery located on the Silverado Trail in St. Helena. Case production is just a mere 375 cases of wine of just two types, a Bordeaux blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon, priced at $60 and $75. This year the winery will try its hand at a third wine, a Sauvignon Blanc but case production will just hover around 400. Like many small boutique wineries that make high-end wines, one has to wonder if it is possible to make a go of it in this economy. We have already seen a few wineries of this type up for sale or on the brink of financial disaster.
We visited Boeschen Vineyards a couple of weeks ago and met with Doug Boeschen, the only full-time employee at the winery. Doug parents, Dann and Susan Boeschen, and his sister Laura are the owners, but the main responsibility belongs to Doug who does all the vineyard management and the winemaking.
The property was purchased in 1999 with the most important asset being several vineyards of hillside Cabinet Sauvignon. This little vineyard is on a south-facing terrace growing on immense layers of volcanic obsidian, very dark and glass-like. We saw chunks of the obsidian displayed in the winery and it is very beautiful and impressive. This hillside vineyard is managed so that the yield is just 2.5 tons per acre. There has been only one vintage of the Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006, that was released this year. Only a few bottles of this wine remain, none for sale and just enough to entice visitors for the next vintage. We tasted this wine and were surprised that this young wine was so soft and elegant with tannins well balanced. It easily can be drunk now but this wine is destined for greatness down the road, a wine to be served for a special occasion.
The property is beautiful with amazing landscaping all designed by Susan Boeschen. The winery is set back in the hillside where caves have been dug. All the farming is done sustainably. It is very peaceful and quiet here despite the fact that it is only just a couple of hundred yards from the Silverado Trail.
Not many people know about this winery but if you like something very different and have the budget for high-end wines next time in Napa, contact Doug Boeschen and make an arrangement for a very interesting tour and tasting of some delicious wines. My prediction is that these wines will eventually all be sold quickly given the quality and short supply. I get the feeling from Doug that selling 400 cases of wine each year is enough to sustain the winery. There are no plans to increase supply, merely make the best possible wines from seven acres of estate vineyards.
Good: Small family-owned, great Cabernet, sustainable farming, beautiful hillside setting.
Bad: Price of the Cabernet and Bordeaux at $60 and $75, out of reach for many a pocket book.