Kurt Beitler, owner/winemaker of Boheme Wines, exemplifies the grape farmer/winemaker relationship. He is both.
In 2000, Kurt came to the Sonoma Coast from Oregon to manage vineyards for Belle Glos, the Caymus Winery Sonoma Coast project. His skills, access to great grapes and love for Sonoma Coast naturally evolved into his own label, Bohème, in 2004. I’ve tasted Bohème since the 2010 vintage and, to a wine, they are delicious, concentrated and expressive of the Sonoma Coast. If this is all you need to know, great, let’s get you some. If you’re also into tasting how vineyard can influence taste, Bohème is as good as any winery in California to show you how.
I’ve tasted Bohème since the 2010 vintage. They are delicious, concentrated and expressive of the Sonoma Coast. If you’re into tasting how vineyard influences taste, Bohème is as good as any winery in California to show you how.
You’ll read in my Boheme stories about the three Sonoma Coast vineyards Kurt farms: English Hill, Taylor Ridge and Stuller. They share similar geographies (5-9 miles from the Pacific, 600-1200 feet elevation), daily temperature highs and lows and low-yields of 1 to 2 tons/acre. But soils and daily weather patterns make the wines dramatically different from each other. Whether it’s Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, each vineyard tends to have its loyalists. I have my personal favorite of the three, but you’ll have to read my Boheme stories to find out which it is.
Most Bohème wines are 100-200 case lots made in tradition “Burgundian” fashion. Alcohols are typically under 14%. Oak is all French, usually 15-20% new. Fairly priced, hovering around $50, these are consistently DDWA Very Good or Great Values.
3 questions for Kurt Beitler of Bohème:
Your favorite home-cooked meal?
Wild King Salmon immediately comes to mind! I pre-heat bbq to its highest temp, then make a 'boat' of HD Aluminum foil (make double layer if foil is thin and fragile), tailored to the size/ shape of the filet, with edges turned up like a shoe box lid.
Directly on foil, squeeze one-half Meyer lemon, ~2 Tsp olive oil, salt, pepper and (most important): Hot Pepper Sesame Oil. Stir slurry gently on foil to coat evenly, careful to not puncture foil. Now place salmon filet skin-side-down on foil boat. Atop the filet, squeeze second half of lemon, and add more olive oil, s&p and Hot Pepper Sesame Oil.
Take boat with fillet directly to grill and cook (with no turning or flipping of fillet) for ~5 minutes or until skin is crusty, top is light pink and inside rare/ med. rare and translucent. Large stainless spatula (or two) works best for removing from grill. Pro tip: with tweezers, pull large bones from fillet before cooking. Pairs with Pinot Noir!
Mountains or Ocean and why?
Mountains - I love the feel of mountain air. Also, how sound & light travel differently through thin mountain air. Light has a sparkle and sounds somehow have closeness and greater definition on the ear. Mountains also remind me of my favorite ski days growing up in Oregon, and bike rides above Crested Butte, Colorado.
Tell us something interesting about terroir, clones, yeast or cork
Sonoma Coast terroir is highly varying. At our 3 vineyards (5 - 9 miles from the Pacific at 600 - 1,200 feet elevation) we have soils that range from 'Goldridge': light gray/ caramel-color sand and clay subsoil to 'Josephine': red-hued (Iron) rocks at Stuller Vineyard.
A key difference is that above 1,000 feet we have a fraction of the fog than below 1,000 feet. Because of the prevailing fog at lower elevation, the soils at Taylor Ridge and English Hill are effectively re-hydrated on a regular basis, allowing us to dry farm (no supplemental irrigation). The more clay-rich Goldridge and Steinbeck soils at these sites also retain more moisture!
At Stuller Vineyard, with its high elevation (above fog) and rocky (well-drained) soil, the vines grow in a dryer and more-stressed environment, giving clusters that are small with relative tiny berries. The Pinot Noir from Stuller, with higher skin-to-juice ratio, is consistently our darkest and highest-tannin wine.
Pinots from Taylor Ridge and English Hill give a softer texture with corresponding brilliant color. It's fun to consider that these wines all grow within Sonoma Coast AVA, but express dramatically different and unique terroir.