Monday, October 29, 2007

When Is a Davis Bynum Not a Davis Bynum?

When it's a Rodney Strong.

On a recent trip to the Russian River Valley, I sought out the Davis Bynum winery. The night before, I had enjoyed one of his well-known Pinot Noirs and was suitably impressed. I thought I'd get me some myself to bring home.

But when we passed the place on the map, there was no David Bynum Winery. Just a place called River Bend Ranch. A local told us that, yes, this indeed was the Bynum place. We ventured into the tasting room and got our explanation. Last summer, Bynum, who is in his 80s, sold his "brand" and inventory to winermaker Rodney Strong, who will now bottle wine under the Bynum name. Bynum did not sell the winery itself, and will have nothing to do with the wines that will now be made under his name. Rodney Strong owner Tom Klein plans to make the Bynum wine from a number of
vineyards in Russian River Valley that he owns, along with "additional
negotiated grape contracts within the AVA." Rodney Strong Vineyards "luxury winemaker" Gary Patzwald will actually make the wine for the brand. To all of which my reaction is: WTF?

I don't know about you, but selling Bynum wines not made by Bynum and not even made on the Bynum land sounds kinda fishy to me, like someone's pulling a fast one. I asked if the new Pinot Noir made under the River Bend Ranch name was made by Bynum with Bynum grapes and was told "yes." So that's the wine I bought. And, what's more, is was a steal at $26, about half of what Bynum's wine cost last year.

1 comment:

SmokingGoat said...

We were also late on the uptake - just went by there this last weekend. RBR wines were going fast and cheap because the facility has now been sold.
I got the impression Bynum would have considerable influence in the new Strong venture - but that was just from tasting-room comments. We'll have to see - at least (?) it went to another family winery?...