Wine Appellations

Benched at Byron

By Meridith May / Photos by Wendy Ramos

Winemaker at Byron Vineyards, Nagy (who is also a real-life basketball coach for local St. Joseph High School’s JV team) welcomes the winds that whip through the vines, drying out the fog and allowing the sun to drench his stars – athletes that come to fruition on some of the most sought after soil in California.
An athlete at heart, Nagy, 31, was a former ski bum before he found satisfaction as a harvest lab technician at Mondavi in Oakville after graduating as a chemistry major from UC Davis. A move to the Santa Maria Valley working towards teaching credentials soon landed him a position at Cambria Winery. But it would be in 2001 that he would assist Byron Winemaker Ken Brown and two years later be promoted to Director of Winemaking (Brown officially parted last June to pursue his own label).
Any plans for a Nagy label? “No plans, but ideally, if it were to happen, given the world to source the fruit, I would still choose the Santa Maria Valley,” he insists.

When you taste the wines from Byron Vineyards & Winery, imagine the fog rolling in over Santa Maria’s well-drained soils. This cool, marine climate lends itself to the legendary Pinot Noir of Bien Nacido Vineyards and the Burgundian style fruit that emerges from Nielson Vineyard, Santa Barbara County’s oldest, planted in 1964.
Byron can come from no other place than Santa Barbara County.
Current Releases
Byron 2003 Pinot Blanc, Santa Maria Valley
Barrel fermented in old French oak, this is a creamy white, expressive with scents of orange blossoms, tangerine and Asian pear. Hints of brown spice and a zippy acidity lends itself for a true companion to sushi!

Byron 2003 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the flagship wines; both lovely, easy-going charmers.
Byron 2003 Nielson Pinot Noir struck a chord of earth and spice. This Pinot has depth, with autumnal influences on the palate such as cinnamon and nutmeg and a core of blackberry. The finish is long, with a tongue-coating licorice and black cherry memory.
(Distributed by Young’s Market Co)

Byron’s Director of Winemaking, Jonathan Nagy, in the Nielson Vineyard, the first commercially planted vines in California, dating back to 1964.
Image of Bien Nacido Pinot Noir bottle

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