Get the Dirt about Byron Blatty Wines from owner Mark Blatty

25 Oct

ByronBlattyPeople1. What was your first vintage year? 2014

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? We are still small but growing every year. In 2014 we started with just two barrels / 50 cases, followed by 125 cases in 2015, 475 cases in 2016 and are aiming at roughly 1,200 cases this year.

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? Given our small size, just 112 cases released this year, we currently do not have a tasting room although that is something we plan on down the road. For the time being we are focused on events, dinners, and private appointments, which we do book for our mailing list subscribers.

4. If not you, who is your winemaker? (If willing to share.) All of our wines are the result of an ongoing collaboration with our winemakers Steve Lemley and Nate Hasper, and Assistant Winemaker Joey Perry. Jenny and I have a background in television production and have approached our wines the way we would produce a tv series. You have to have the appropriate talent. Byron Blatty was our vision and we built a team of likeminded people who are all working towards the same goal; to handcraft world class wines from our home town of Los Angeles.

5. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? As Jenny and I became more and more serious about wine we read about the history of wine in California and were surprised to learn about its roots in Los Angeles. We started to think about taking the plunge with a commercial venture and early on were given a bottle of Moraga Estate, 2007 from Bel Air as a gift. The night we opened that bottle the question about whether or not fantastic wine could be made from L.A. grapes was answered with a resounding “yes!”

ByronBlattyVines6. What varietals do you work with? Why? We are currently doing classic Rhone and Bordeaux varietals as well as Zinfandel, Tannat, Tempranillo and Alicante Bouschet. Our favorite thing is to ignore the traditional blends and put wines together that taste great, regardless of origin. For example, Contingent is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Cabernet Franc. I’m pretty sure that’s not a traditional blend, but it tastes incredible. What else really matters?

7. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? We use a mixture of new and neutral French oak barrels primarily. Being from L.A. our wines tend to have rich, ripe flavors and no shortage of alcohol. Depending on the varietal, we feel that a healthy dose of new oak compliments these flavors and helps balance our wines. We are currently experimenting with about 8 – 10 different barrel and toasting profiles and recently introduced a touch of American Oak on a few wines this year.

8. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? Although somewhat unknown, Los Angeles has a rich wine history and the variation of the region’s terroir gives us the ability to make wines with diverse character and personality. There’s no shortage of sunshine in L.A. and the resulting ripeness is reflected in the style of our wines. Overall we believe that the full potential of the region has not yet been realized, and are excited to bring these wines to people’s attention.

ByronBlattyBottles9. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? Every year we learn more about our vineyards, how our wines respond to different cellar treatments, barrel profiles etc. We get so excited about each new vintage and it really is satisfying so see each wine come together. Honestly, we wish that someone had pushed us to start sooner!

10. Most importantly, what’s so great about being small? What can you do as a small winemaker, that wouldn’t be possible for larger wineries? As a small company we are able to oversee every detail down to the most minor, which inevitably is reflected in the quality of the wines. Additionally we get to decide what kind of company we want to be and never have to make decisions based on someone else’s bottom line or agenda. Our whole team pours their heart and soul into these wines.

11. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? We’ve come to a point where consumers are tired of large brands and mass produced products, particularly when it comes to food and drink. The farm to table movement reflects the fact that people want to know where their food comes from and would rather spend some extra money to buy products that are handmade and local. We don’t see that trend going away any time soon and think that small, local wineries will continue to gain favor amongst wine drinkers worldwide.

12. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? This is such a tough one. Just in California alone there are so many wonderful wine regions with so many different microclimates and styles of wines that come from them but I’m a born and raised Angeleno so I can’t really imagine us making wine anywhere else.

For more information about Byron Blatty wines, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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