Beringer The Waymaker 2014, Paso Robles
Cost: $27-29
I t’s fun to go back and visit old friends to see if they have changed over the years. I have long enjoyed wines from the extensive catalog at Beringer, so I thought I would check in to see what’s new.
They make great cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay from their historic winery in the heart of Napa Valley. With a wide array of reserves and single vineyard wines, you can find a good wine at many different price points.
I tried The Waymaker, an interesting blend from Paso Robles, a relatively new region for Beringer. The Beringer brothers were pioneers when they opened their Napa Valley winery in 1875. This wine continues the family tradition of discovery with a wine from another emerging appellation. It blends varietals that excel in Paso Robles: syrah, petite sirah, cabernet sauvignon and malbec.
Beringer The Waymaker.
It is a beautiful, robust wine, showing deep garnet in the glass with aromas of plum, cherry and pomegranate with savory hints. The lush mouthfeel offers flavors of plum, cocoa and spice. There is a nice balance of ripe fruit, firm tannins and crisp acidity. The wine has a pleasant, medium-length finish.
The blend is 56 percent syrah, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent petite sirah, six percent malbec, three percent mourvedre, two percent petit verdot and one percent tannat, all from the Camatta Hills Vineyard. Nestled among the rolling hills near the town of Paso Robles, the vineyard is protected by the Cuesta Ridge coastal mountain range to the west.
Hot daytime temperatures are balanced by maritime fog in the evening, allowing for even ripening of the grapes. Chalky limestone soils give distinctive characteristics to the grapes.
Each lot is fermented separately and placed in seasoned oak barrels for 16 months to round and soften the tannins. The backbone of the blend is syrah, a grape I think is widely under-appreciated by American wine drinkers. Many syrahs grown in Paso Robles produce rich, complex wines.
The cab gives the wine its depth as well as some spice notes. Petite sirah adds the rich, inky color as well as some aromatics.
It is a gorgeous blend that should continue to develop in the bottle for many years.
Rhine House at Beringer Vineyards.
Winery: Beringer Vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley, 141 years old. It didn’t even stop making wine during Prohibition, turning to sacramental wine production.
Jacob Beringer left his home in Mainz, Germany for opportunities in the New World, arriving in New York in 1868. When he heard about Napa Valley’s rocky hillside soil and fertile valley land that resembled the vineyards back home, he headed to California.
He became cellar foreman for Charles Krug, one of the first commercial winemakers in Napa Valley. Jacob’s brother Frederick joined him and together they bought 215 acres in St. Helena in 1875. The next year they celebrated their first harvest and first crush, making about 18,000 cases the first year.
They were among the first to craft wines from Napa Valley’s finest appellations, planning to make wines that rivaled those from their homeland, Germany.
That tradition continued in the 1960s with an early stake in Knights Valley, and continues today with wines from outstanding vineyards in California’s Central Coast. The Waymaker represents Beringer’s pioneering viticultural past, and its commitment to farm the best of California’s vineyards.
The winery can point to many historic firsts and much critical acclaim. For instance, its 1994 chardonnay was the first white wine to top Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list, making Beringer the first and only winery to have both a white and a red wine named number one wine of the year.
If you have been to Napa Valley you certainly have seen their historic Rhine House, built to resemble a gothic Rhine castle. The winery offers a variety of tastings there, in the Old Winery tasting room and on the porch. You also can tour the Rhine House and the Old Winery and tunnels. Beringer is a must-see on any visit to Napa.
Beringer produces cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot noir, red blends, pinot grigio, merlot, sauvignon blanc, zinfandel and white zinfandel.
Although the winery is owned by Treasury Wine Estates, history has come full circle. Jacob Beringer’s great, great grandson is now the chief winemaker, ready to create some new traditions.
Beringer The Waymaker paired well with grilled chicken and mashed potatoes.
Goes with: We had this beautiful wine with grilled chicken breasts, mashed potatoes with creamed corn and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. This was a meal that felt like a return to summer.
I grill all year long, but when the weather turns warm it’s a lot more fun to fire up the grill and roast some meat. I’ve changed my techniques a lot over the years, and now I like to do a lot of rubs. Unless you’re cooking by indirect heat, sauces tend to burn before the meat is cooked.
So I took some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and rubbed them with a couple of different mixes. This time I started with some Morton Nature’s Seasons, added Island Seasonings that I bought in Hawaii and finished with something called “Magic Spice,” that we got from a street vendor in St. Martin.
I rubbed it all into the chicken and let it sit for a few minutes. These rubs worked great, but almost anything with a nice mix of ingredients will work. Just use your imagination.
On the gas grill I turned the heat up high to warm up the grill. Then I placed the seasoned chicken on the grill and turned the heat to medium. I cooked the chicken about five minutes on each side, but you need to keep an eye on the meat. I like to cook it so the chicken is still moist on the inside, but not pink. The initial hot grill leaves grill marks on the chicken that really add to the look of the meal.
Then I bring the chicken inside and serve with barbecue sauce. I love Mumbo sauce, a rich, sweet sauce that was born on the South Side of Chicago. I also like Abrams, a sauce created by a family in Waynesboro and now made in Grovetown.
Both offer a sweet, spicy taste that perks up your taste buds, and doesn’t taste like a commercial sauce.
I think this wine also would pair well with grilled duck, barbecue pork, beef burgundy or hearty cheeses.

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