Tamber Bey Vineyards
Tamber Bey is a privately-owned and operated winery that produces 100% estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay wines. The winery harvests fruit from its two vineyards located in the heart of the Napa Valley. Adjacent to the Napa River at the southern end of the famed Oakville Appellation, the Tamber Bey Estate Vineyard is located on the southern edge of this premier Napa Valley Cabernet ripening zone and is planted entirely with the Cabernet grapes that make Tamber Bey’s flagship 'Estate' Cabernet.
The Deux Chevaux Vineyard is located just east of the town of Yountville, in the Yountville Appellation. This vineyard sits in the middle of the valley and is also adjacent to the Napa River. It is planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Chardonnay grapes. All wines made under the Tamber Bey label are 100% produced from these two vineyards.
In 1999, Barry Waitte bought a 60-acre vineyard near Yountville and began his career as a wine grape farmer. The property had great potential and was located in the northern part of the Yountville appellation. Barry engaged viticulturist Josh Clark to farm the property with the goal was to make it a premier Napa Valley vineyard, featuring varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux grapes. Later that year, Barry purchased another property a mere one-half mile away. This vineyard property, located at the southern end of the prestigious Oakville appellation, became the winery’s namesake Tamber Bey Estate. On this mid-valley, 'cool-climate' property Barry planted very select clones of Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2001, Barry teamed up with Winemaker Thomas Brown. Thomas possessed an impressive résumé that included experience with Turley Wine Cellars and other projects for Outpost, Schrader and Chiarello wines. In 2012, winemaker Frederic Delivert joined the team and now leads the winemaking effort working with Thomas applying his skills with all the wines.
In the fall of 2003, the Tamber Bey label premiered with a limited production of 2001 Vintage Chardonnay, Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon blend from the Deux Chevaux Vineyard. Within weeks, the majority of the production was delivered, primarily to a select list of friends and family, and the entire inventory was sold by the end of the year. Since then, the wine lineup has grown to four wines with a combined production of more than 6,500 cases, with some of the wines still selling out within weeks of release. This continued, enthusiastic reception and the yearly increase in production resulted in an expansion of distribution to include exclusive retail wine shops and restaurants throughout California, as well as distribution across the country, as well as internationally in Canada and Japan.
The moniker Tamber Bey combines the names of the first two Arabian horses that winery owner Barry Waitte owned and raced - Tamborina and Bayamo. The Deux Chevaux Vineyard derived its name from these two horses; Deux Chevaux is French Two Horses.
The Tamber Bey estate is now home to several world class Arabian endurance race horses. These horses regularly compete in races covering 50 to 100 miles, and are ridden by Barry Waitte and his wife and winery general manager, Jennifer Waitte. Jennifer is also the trainer of these wonderful horses.
Barry is a native of Northern California, and he developed his love of the wine country during visits to Napa Valley with his parents starting in 1959. Barry has had multiple careers, most notably in the technology industry in the late 70s through the mid 90s. In 1999, he begin his pursuit of this passion for wine when he purchased a Yountville vineyard. Starting as a grower only, Barry began making wine under the Tamber Bey name in 2001.
Barry's other passion is endurance horse racing, hence the logo on the wine label. Barry is also involved in numerous philanthropic campaigns through his namesake family foundation, The Waitte Foundation, which supports organizations such as the St. Helena Hospital Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of Napa and the Children's Health Initiative, as well as Opportunity International, a worldwide micro-loan agency for the underprivileged. Barry serves on the Board of the Oakville Winegrowers Association. Barry is a graduate of California Poly State University, San Luis Obispo and did continued studies in viticulture and enology at UC Davis.
Born and raised in France, Frederic Delivert's first experience with California wine industry happened in 1991, during an harvest internship while enrolled at the Ecole Supérieure d'Agriculture de Purpan (in Toulouse) to get his Masters degree in agriculture. The experience abroad was so interesting that Frederic came back after graduating and started to compile a great experience in winemaking, with tenures at Newton, Far Niente, Duckhorn, Hafner, Plumpjack and Cade, and most recently Martin Estate and Clark-Claudon. Frederic is convinced that winemaking starts in the vineyard. When grapes are brought to their best potential, then winemaking is just choosing the right path to express it.
The Tamber Bey label derives most its fruit from two privately owned vineyards, the Tamber Bey and Deux Chevaux vineyards, both located in the middle of Napa Valley near the town of Yountville. Although the two properties lay a mere one-half mile from each other, they are as different as dusk and dawn due to the unique microclimates created by their proximity to Yount Hill.
The Tamber Bey Estate Vineyard consists of 11 acres located at the southern end of Napa Valley's famous Oakville appellation, just north of Yountville. It has gravel/loam soils that are relatively shallow and well-suited to Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The site enjoys early morning fog and late afternoon breezes that are influenced by San Francisco Bay to the south. To encourage competition for sun, water, and nutrients, Tamber Bey planted over 9,000 vines in a tight planting formation on the estate.
The Deux Chevaux Vineyard is a 60-acre parcel situated east of the town of Yountville and in the Yountville appellation. There are two waterways on either side of the vineyard, one being the Napa River. This vineyard is planted with Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Chardonnay. This vineyard is influenced to a greater degree by the San Francisco Bay and the early morning fog and late afternoon winds that it generates.
Starting in 2012, Tamber Bey began sourcing fruit from outside vineyards. After an exhaustive search in Napa and Sonoma vineyards, three vineyards were selected for their excellent terrior and relationship to the selected fruit. In Yountville, we sourced a Dijon Chardonnay from the Trio Vineyard, located on the western floor south of the Town of Yountville. Going a bit north we sourced what we think is some of the best Sauvignon Blanc from the red rocked Tench Vineyard in the Oakville Appellation. Lastly, we will be introducing in early 2014 a Pinot Noir from the famed Sun Chase Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast Appellation.
Every varietal has an ideal ripening zone, a region where it can consistently produce a balanced wine with pure, accurate varietal character. One of the world's best ripening zones for Cabernet is the Napa Valley. But not all of Napa Valley is suitable for Cabernet. In fact, Napa's Cabernet's ripening zone runs only from Yountville/Oakville in the south to Calistoga in the north. The wines from the warmer northern section of this zone typically emphasize power; those from the cooler, southern end of the zone accentuate balance and finesse.
Tamber Bey's Estate Vineyard and Deux Chevaux Vineyard are set at the southern end of Napa's Cabernet ripening zone. Located respectively in the Oakville and Yountville appellations, both vineyards experience the early morning fog and cool afternoon breezes off San Francisco Bay that help extend the growing season well into October. The region's unusual microclimate gives the wines an elegance that allows the geology of the site to show through without interference from overripe flavors. In addition to Tamber Bey's wines possessing all the body and lushness one would expect from the Napa Valley, they are also graceful enough to convey the unique minerality and topography of both vineyard sites.
Great wine can only come from great fruit. To guarantee that Tamber Bey's vineyards are performing at peak levels, Winemaker Frederic Delivert and Consulting Winemaker Thomas Brown work closely with viticulturist Josh Clark. Their intensive farming regime entails stresses each vineyard to the point of near collapse. Early season deficit irrigation reduces berry size, controls vigor and increases flavor intensity. Extensive thinning, dropping substantial amounts of fruit, promotes even ripening and balance. The influence of the cool maritime breezes allows the fruit to remain longer on the vines before harvesting.