Vineyard and Winery was founded in 1984 by Winemaker and General Manager Byron
"Ken" Brown. With many year's experience as a winemaker in Santa Barbara County,
Ken recognized the region's potential for great wines in the Burgundian style,
and was also the first winemaker to introduce Rhone-style grape varieties to the
area. The first crush at Byron Vineyard & Winery produced 7,600 cases, and Byron
soon gained national recognition for high-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Among Byron's 641 acres of vineyards surrounding the winery is an historic block
planted in 1964 by Uriel Nielson, a U.C. Davis student of viticulture. Once thought
to be too cold for the production of premium wine grapes, Nielsen went on to prove
the theory wrong.
In 1990, Byron was purchased by the Robert Mondavi family, and Ken Brown became
the Winemaker and General Manager. He and Robert Mondavi's son Tim set about designing
the new Byron Winery as an expression of their belief in natural farming, experimental
viticulture and gentle grape handling. They wanted to eliminate pumping, which
shears grape stems, skin and seeds, allows tannins and other harsh elements into
the juice and can make wine bitter. With the aid of noted architect R. Scott Johnson,
who designed the Opus One winery in Napa Valley (a joint-venture between the families
of Robert Mondavi and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild) they designed a multi-level
winery that replaces pumping with gravity flow, resulting in more complex, dynamic
wines. The result is wine with a remarkably smoother, more pleasant mouth-feel.
In addition, Byron's vineyards were expanded and replanted as Ken Brown experimented
with trellising systems, new rootstocks and clones, row orientation, and planting
density in his quest for the perfect grape.
Byron Vineyard and Winery / 5230 Tepusquet Canyon Road / Santa Maria CA 93454