Beringer is one of Napa Valley’s leading wine brands, recognized and appreciated the world over and has more wines in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 than any other winery in the world. The longest continually operating winery in California, it has been one of Napa Valley’s benchmarks since its first harvest in 1876; the same year Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.
In 2015, Mark Beringer, the great-great grandson of co-founder Jacob Beringer, returned to Napa Valley to continue a rich family tradition as the vineyard’s eighth Beringer winemaker. Exquisite Taste was thrilled to catch up with Mark while he was in Jakarta as part of his Southeast Asia tour in celebration of Beringer’s partnership with TripAdvisor, which is designed to make travel planning more fun and enjoyable over a glass of wine.
E: Exquisite Taste: Over 140 years of family wine-making heritage is quite a legacy; do you find this a heavy burden?
Mark Beringer: No, I wouldn’t say that. It’s a big role and Beringer is a very famous brand, so whether I was part of the family or not it would be a high pressure job. I certainly strive to do well so I don’t let down my family’s legacy and what was started by my great-great grandfather.
E: Napa wines are famously distinctive; what’s special about the Beringer Estates?
M: Beringer has the longest continuous winemaking history in the Napa Valley, 141 years. The vineyards that we have are some of the very best in all of Napa because we’ve had the time to learn about them and see them develop. Having that history of farming allows us to grow the very best grapes, which make the best wines.
E: What do you think makes Beringer wines so popular throughout Southeast Asia?
M: I think our long history and proven track record reassures customers that a bottle of Beringer wine is of high quality.
E: What motivates you?
M: The exciting thing about my job is that it changes every day. Some days I go to the vineyards and work on the vines with the farmers to make sure we’re growing the best crop, on other days we’re working on the harvest and going through the science of making wine; there is so much variety.
E: As we approach your third anniversary at Beringer, what has been a standout moment?
M: The first presentation I ever gave at Hudson House. It is our culinary centre today, but it was my great-great grandfather’s home, so the first time I hosted a group there and could tell them my family’s history was very, very special.
E: And what’s your standout wine?
M: I’m just getting started, so the 2015 vintage is my very first; it takes two to three years to make a wine. The 2015 chardonnays have been out for a little while and my first Private Reserve Cabernet 2015 has just been bottled this summer, although it hasn’t been released yet to the public. I presented it to Wine Advocate and received a 95+ score, so that was very exciting.
E: What’s the most rewarding part of being the Beringer Chief Winemaker?
M: It’s a very prestigious position within my industry and, for me, continuing the family legacy makes it all the more special.
: What do the next three years hold?
M: That’s hard to say. We’re using some new techniques and technologies to develop some new, more evolutionary wines, but it will be several years before they are on the market. Our Private Reserve collection has been around for over 40 years, so there is a certain expectation regarding its quality and style, so this is an opportunity to be more flexible and play a little more.
E: If you could share a bottle of Beringer with your great-great grandad Jacob, what would it be?
M: A Private Reserve Cabernet. He would be amazed to see what we’ve achieved in that area; it’s one of the most award-winning wines in the Napa Valley. It’s a wine of massive structure, but I think its beauty is that you can put it in your cellar and pull it out in 10, 20 or even 30 years and it will still be an amazing bottle of wine.
Wine Picks by Mark Beringer
Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
A distinct varietal profile full of dark, rich red fruit characteristics, black cherry and raspberry, enriched by toasted oak, vanilla and cinnamon spice.
Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Soft, silky tannins, aromas and flavours of dark red fruit led by raspberry, black cherry oak spice, with more traditional Knights Valley tones of black and blue fruits. A touch of liquorice and mocha round out a lingering, pleasant finish.
Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Soft, silky tannins with plenty of dark fruit aromas and flavours, blueberry, blackberry and black cherry, alongside aromas of violets, liquorice and oak spice.
Private Reserve Chardonnay Napa Valley
Bright aromas of fresh stone fruit, pineapple, citrus and toasted spiced almonds, complemented by flavours of ripe tropical fruit and rich crème brulée.