Seneca Ewer was a very prominent figure in Napa County in the late 19th century. He was a former California State Senator in Butte County, owned the St. Helena waterworks, and was on the Board of the Bank of St. Helena. Joseph Atkinson was a recently relocated San Francisco businessman who planted 115 acres of grapevines on what is now St. Supery Winery. While Hamden McIntyre’s design for Inglenook winery was under construction, Ewer and Atkinson hired him to design a stone winery. Using sandstone from Howell Mountain, McIntyre designed a 100 x 126 foot stone cellar – what is now the center building at Beaulieu Vineyard. The buildings on either side that now form one large structure were added later.
In 1900, when Georges de Latour’s wife, Fernande, first laid eyes on the land that would become their original Rutherford vineyard, she named it “beau lieu,” or “beautiful place.” The de Latours owned land across from the Ewer and Atkinson Winery, and in 1923 de Latour sold his successful cream of tartar business, bought the four-acre ranch and founded Beaulieu Vineyard. Using Phylloxera-resistant rootstock imported from Europe, De Latour began selling sacramental wine to the Catholic Church. This strong relationship would later allow Beaulieu to become the only Napa Valley winery to remain open for business during Prohibition.
Five years after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, de Latour traveled back to France. He returned with André Tchelistcheff in tow, a famed viticulturist and enologist who instituted the philosophy of continuous innovation in vineyard and winery which Beaulieu adheres to even today. Tchelistcheff introduced cold fermentation for white wines, malolactic fermentation for reds and aging red wines in small, French oak barrels. He also tasted the de Latour family’s private wine – what they called “Private Reserve” – from the 1936 vintage. This Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine was so distinctive that Tchelistcheff insisted it be bottled and sold as the winery’s flagship offering. The result was the inaugural release of Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that was destined to become Napa Valley’s first “cult” Cabernet.
Please enjoy our wines responsibly.
©2013 Beaulieu Vineyard, Rutherford, CA