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To really understand Byron, one must spend some time exploring the Nielson Vineyard that surrounds the winery. More than just the primary source of fruit for Byron’s wines, it has great historical significance as Santa Barbara’s first commercial vineyard. When planted in 1964 by Uriel Nielson, this gently canted site was deemed too cold and inhospitable for grapes, but time has proved the naysayers wrong.
Ken Brown, Byron’s founder, acquired the 432-acre Nielson Vineyard in 1989, five years after he launched the winery. It is located roughly 18 miles east of the Pacific Ocean at 500 to 750 feet above sea level. Chilling winds and thin soils ensure that Byron’s wines possess great intensity, heightened aromatics and firm structure.
Since day one, Byron has been a bastion of experimentation. The early years were devoted to researching clones, rootstock, vine spacing, trellising and farming. Since becoming head winemaker in 2003, Jonathan Nagy has continued down the path of research and innovation. He has also implemented many new methods including red/green fruit drop, intensive sorting, native yeast fermentations and small-lot fermentations.
Under Jonathan’s watchful eye Byron Winery produces spectacularly rich and exotic Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from the Nielson Vineyard and other premier sites in Santa Barbara County. The region once deemed “too cold and inhospitable” is now widely regarded as one of America’s greatest AVAs.