Byron Batty Proves That LA County can Make Luxury Wines
Byron Blatty crafts premium wines from small, largely unknown Los Angeles vineyards, realizing the potential for Angeleno terroir in high quality blends. With its first wines officially released in October 2017, Byron Blatty is rolling out locally, finding placements with some of LA’s best restaurants and buzzed about sommeliers (fans include Providence, Matthew Kaner of Good Measure and Bar Covell, and Kathryn Coker of Rustic Canyon).
Husband and wife team Mark and Jenny Blatty are leading one of the first serious modern efforts to create luxury wine from Los Angeles County fruit. Finding the right vineyards was years in the making, and included rumors and whispers of promising sites. The hunt for Los Angeles terroir brought the couple to sites within the Sierra Pelona Valley, Antelope Valley of the California High Desert, Leona Valley and Malibu Coast AVAs. It often took some serious sleuthing and patience to uncover and build relationships with the vineyard owners.
The Blattys and their team spent considerable effort coaxing these vineyards to their full potential. Great attention to detail was given to ensure proper ripening occurred before hand harvesting each block. Byron Blatty wines often then see anywhere from 18 months to 32 months of French and American oak. The resulting wines show immense power, finesse, and acid retention, making them sommelier favorites as both great local and food pairing wines.
Mark left his long time career in television to embark on this project, inspired by the forgotten history of Los Angeles winemaking, where the heart of the industry was once made up of around 100 wineries in the L.A. area in the mid 19th century. The Blattys likewise have deep roots in Los Angeles (Mark’s grandfather, William Peter Blatty, is the Oscar winning screenplay writer of The Exorcist). As such, this project aims to capture and honor their love of wine, and its deep forgotten roots in the city they call home.
“When winemakers revived Napa Valley in the 1960’s, everyone told them that they were crazy. We get a similar response, as people think we’re crazy to try and create high end wines from L.A.. Naysayers don’t believe that the climate and fruit are good enough for a serious effort. Yet the more we are told that we can’t do it, the more we want to prove them wrong,” says Mark Blatty, proprietor of Byron Blatty. “I love the reaction that people have when they taste our current releases. Their minds are blown by the quality.”
For more information on Byron Blatty or to request samples, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at https://byronblatty.com. Wines are available nationwide via their website.
Neenach Ranch Vineyard, Antelope Valley of the California High Desert AVA
In the foothills of the northeast corner of Antelope Valley lies Neenach Ranch Vineyard, near the base of the Tejon Pass. Grenache flourishes here at 3,000 ft. of elevation. The vineyard rests on a slight slope that is graced with cooling breezes that sweep through the rows in the late summer afternoons, allowing acidity and minerality to remain in the berries even as intense fruit flavors develop.
Smith Family Vineyard, Antelope Valley of the California High Desert AVA
Planted in 2001, Smith Family Vineyard lies in the north end of Antelope Valley in Antelope Acres. These 18 year old vines produce fruit with great depth and character. Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel showcase the area’s ability to create wines with a deep fruit core.
Alonso Family Vineyard, Sierra Pelona Valley AVA
The Alonso Family Vineyard is located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains near the famous Vasquez Rocks state park. With a south-facing slope, the vineyard receives ample sun all season long but also benefits from the cooling breezes that come through the canyon in the evenings. The combination of soils, exposure, 2,800 ft. elevation and cool nights produce a Syrah with deep mocha and coffee notes, and driving acidity.
Leona Valley Vineyard, Leona Valley AVA
A tiny vineyard in the Leona Valley AVA, this site sits on a tiny sliver of land directly on top of the San Andreas Fault. The high elevation of nearly 3,200 feet allows for extreme diurnal shifts to low nighttime temperatures, resulting in thick-skinned grape clusters and concentrated flavors. Syrah and Cabernet Franc grow well here.
Lobo Canyon Vineyard, Malibu Coast AVA
Nestled in Lobo Canyon, on a steep slope near the famed Malibu Rocky Oaks vineyard, is a tiny vineyard that grows Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Blattys took control of the vineyard in 2017 and are targeting fall of 2019 for their first release of wines from this incredible Malibu terroir.
Byron Blatty Los Angeles County Rosé 2017
This lovely pale salmon rosé of Grenache hails from Neenach Ranch Vineyard, in the northeast corner of the Antelope Valley, near the base of the Tejon Pass. The vineyard rests on a slight slope that is graced with cooling breezes that sweep through the rows in the late summer afternoons, allowing acidity and minerality to remain in the berries even as intense fruit flavors develop. The grapes were picked by hand, with dry ice layered into the bins, then cold soaked for 10 hours to preserve the wine’s natural freshness, before they were lightly whole-cluster pressed and settled into a steel tank. A cool and slow fermentation was followed by 5 months of aging in steel. Crisp and refreshing, it's pure summertime in a bottle. 83 cases produced, SRP $27
Byron Blatty Los Angeles County Tremor 2016
Tremor is a blend of 65% Grenache, 30% Merlot, and 5% Syrah. The vineyards from which each of the three varietals are derived, run parallel to the infamous San Andreas Fault, which has played a central role in defining the region’s geological profile. Each site injects its own unique personality into this true Los Angeles cuvée, while their flavors meld together in unique, perfectly balanced harmony. All of the fruit was hand-picked and fermented in open-top bins, with punch downs performed daily. After aging on the lees for 6 months, it was racked and settled back into French oak barrels (60% new) where it stayed for an additional year. SRP $58
Byron Blatty Los Angeles County Agenda 2015
The 2015 Agenda is a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Tannat. The Syrah comes from Alonso Family Vineyard, a hillside site in Mint Canyon, within Los Angeles County’s Sierra Pelona Valley AVA. With a south-facing slope, the vineyard receives ample sun all season long but also benefits from the cooling breezes that come through the canyon in the evenings. The Tannat comes from another hillside vineyard—Bella Collina in the Adelaida District of Paso Robles—and is a perfect complement to the LA Syrah. All of the fruit was handpicked and fermented in open-top bins, with punch downs performed daily. After aging on the lees for 5 months, it was racked and settled back into French oak barrels (15% new) where it stayed for a total of 22 months. SRP $58
Byron Blatty Los Angeles County Contingent 2014
The 2014 Contingent is a co-ferment of 50% Syrah and 50% Cabernet Franc from a tiny vineyard in the Leona Valley AVA, in the northeast corner of LA County. The high elevation, nearly 3,200 feet, allows for low nighttime temperatures, resulting in thick-skinned grape clusters and concentrated flavors. All of the fruit was hand-picked and fermented together in an open-top bin, with punch downs performed daily. The wine was pressed and allowed to age on the lees for 4 months during malolactic fermentation, then racked and settled back into French oak barrels (30% new) where it enjoyed extended aging for nearly 33months. SRP $85