About our wine


When we say that we are a high-quality vineyard that produces elegant high-altitude wines, you can believe it. Our accolades prove it! With three awards from the one of the most prestigious wine competitions in America, you can trust us when we say our wines are top quality. Don’t believe us? See for yourself!

Background of the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Founded in 1983 as the Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition, this distinguished award ceremony has evolved significantly over its nearly-40-year run. Beginning as a regional wine competition in Sonoma County, this championship of wine-making expanded its boundaries in 2006 to include the entire country after rebranding itself as the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in 2000. In fact, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is now regarded as the largest competition of American Wines in the World.

To give you a sense of the significance of this award ceremony, the competition received over 3,000 wine entries in 2006 — and grew to a staggering 7,164 entries just ten years later in 2016. Significantly, 2016 happens to be both the year that the competition received its highest number of entries ever before and the year that Byrd Vineyard took home three major wins — including a Double Gold Award, no less. 

Judged by over 60 wine experts from a variety of industries including media, hospitality and education, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition continues to be a major attraction in the San Francisco Bay Area for everyone from wine-, food-, and event-lovers. The event regularly receives entries from over 28 states, making its awards both competitive and prestigious. 

2016 was a huge year for Byrd Vineyard. Our high-altitude vineyard in the Mayacamas Mountains took home three major national awards.

2012 Byrd Vineyard Red Wine

This smooth red wine blend took home a Silver Medal from the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Deep red in color and fruit-forward on the nose, our Red Wine is the perfect wine to pair with anything from a cheese board to a steak dinner. With notes of red and black fruit, wood, and baking spices, this wine finishes with fine tannins and a tangy taste.

2012 Byrd Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Another Silver Medal winner, our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is meant to be enjoyed with a delicious meal surrounded by family and friends. Fruity aromas open slowly in perfect sync while layers of red and black currants reveal flavors of warm spice and sweet vanilla. This bold, full-bodied wine leaves you with a lingering, lengthy finish.

2012 Byrd Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Our 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon took home a Double Gold Medal in 2016! Bold and dry with fine tannins, this ruby-colored full-bodied wine is powerful and delicious. Earth notes of tobacco and cedar give the wine depth, and the finish is drawn out and vibrant. Try it with a big, meaty steak to see for yourself why this wine took home a double gold medal!

Estate wine delivered straight to your door

For over a decade, Byrd Vineyard has been bringing you high-quality and elegant wine — at a price that doesn’t break the bank. For even more convenience, we are now offering delivery straight to your door. Check here to see if we deliver to your state!

About our wine

Best Wines for Dinner

When planning a meal for a special dinner, it is common to be stumped on the question “What is the best wine to serve?”. From casual weeknight dinners to elegant dinner parties, these staple bottles of wine from Byrd Vineyard are sure to solve any pairing dilemma that you encounter. These wines are sure fire bets to be enjoyed by all of your dinner guests (whether that is a group of friends and family or even just yourself!). 

It is important to remember that you can elevate any food experience – from a casual get-together with a few friends to a larger event once it is safe to do so – with a delicious and bold wine. By thoughtfully selecting a complementary bottle of wine, your next dinner party is sure to be remembered by all! 

Thoughts to consider before selecting the perfect wine

  • How many people will be joining you for dinner and what are their wine preferences?
  • Will you be serving wine with appetizers or just for the main course?
  • How many different dishes will you be serving?
  • What kinds of foods will you be serving?

By taking into account the wine preferences of your guests as well as the types of food you are planning to serve, you can cover all of your bases in selecting the best possible wine for your dinner. For example, if your guests love big, bold reds and you are planning on grilling up steaks, our 2009 Byrd Cabernet Sauvignon would pair beautifully. If you are planning on serving a pre-dinner charcuterie board filled with herby cheeses and sweet fig jams, our lush and sophisticated 2010 Byrdeaux Red Wine would be amazing to have on hand. 

Pairings based on what’s for dinner

We all know that a fantastic wine enhances any meal — even more so when the wine is carefully paired with a food known to delectably complement its flavors. For example, sweet and herbaceous Merlot is known to bring out delicious flavors in beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and Italian dishes with plenty of rich red sauce. The sophisticated flavors of rich berries and notes of herbaceous aromatics in our 2010 Byrd Merlot would bring out the mouth-watering flavors of garlic and herbs in dishes such as roast chicken with thyme and onions, garlic lover’s roast beef, and baked garlic butter pork tenderloin.   

Cabernet Sauvignon is known as the ultimate wine to pair with a juicy steak or red meat of any and all kinds. With beautifully integrated aromas of cassis and dark chocolate, our award-winning 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is the best of the best. Featuring bold flavors of black cherry, blueberry, and sweet French oak, the silky tannins and full body of this wine will stand its own against a powerful steak. This ultimate steak with garlic butter, lamb chops with garlic and herbs, and even a burger smothered in blue cheese and caramelized onions would be a match made in heaven.

At the end of the day, there are no rules when it comes to pairing food and wine! Don’t feel restricted by traditional wine pairing rules. Serve your favorite wine with your favorite foods and you are sure to have a delicious meal that all of your guests will enjoy! 

Have a variety of wines on hand and let your guests choose

To best satisfy all of your guests, it is recommended that you keep a variety of wines on hand and let your guests choose their favorites. Consider stocking up on bold Cabernet Sauvignon, subtly sweet Merlot, and a luxurious and versatile Red Wine Blend. Whichever Byrd Vineyard wine your guests choose is sure to be the star of the show! 

Quality wine delivered straight to your door

For over a decade, Byrd Vineyard has been bringing you high-quality and elegant wine — at a price that doesn’t break the bank. For even more convenience, we are now offering delivery straight to your door. Check here to see if we deliver to your state!

About our wine

The Passing of a Wine Legend: Steven Spurrier

On March 9, 2021, the world lost a legend. Steven Spurrier wore many hats and had many talents, among them: wine merchant, expert, critic, and organizer. But he was also a wine enthusiast, devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He was so many things to so many people, and he was an absolute force in the wine industry.


Spurrier’s wine career began in 1970 when he purchased a wine shop, Les Caves de la Madeleine, where clients were encouraged to taste wines before they bought them. The shop quickly achieved recognition as a highly regarded specialist wine retailer.

In 1973 he founded L’Academie du Vin, France’s first private wine school.

Spurrier went on to stage the famous “Judgement of Paris” Wine Tasting of 1976.

The last challenge he took on was that of the vintner. He planted his vineyard at his wife’s farm in Dorset’s Bride Valley in 2009 and made English sparkling wine. A project he described as “the last throw of the Spurrier wine dice.”

The Judgement of Paris

Perhaps the biggest irony of Spurrier’s career was that he had long been considered a true champion of French wines – but as an organizer of the 1976 “Judgment of Paris” wine tasting, he unexpectedly helped to propel the “New World” California wines to the same prestigious level as their French counterparts. 

“On June 7, 1976, a story in Time Magazine announced to the world the shocking results of the now-famous Paris Tasting: Two California wines had, according to a panel of France’s most glorified oenophiles, bested their French counterparts in the head-on blind competition.”

From: “Man of the Year: André Tchelistcheff,” John N. Hutchison, Wines and Vines, March 1990  

Bruce Byrd, founder of Byrd Vineyards, highly recommends the book Judgement of Paris: California vs.France and The Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine by George M. Tabor. 

He recalls: “I bought George Tabor’s book as a step in becoming more knowledgeable about Old World wines vs New World wines. I was not disappointed. It sets up the way wine was perceived at that time.  Of course, France was the pinnacle of fine wine brands at the time. California, not so much. Tabor introduces us to Steven Spurrier and his organizers that put this tasting together.  Spurrier and the nine expert wine judges opened up the experience of wine appreciation to a much larger audience than it ever had prior.”


Spurrier received several awards for his writings on wine, including Le Prix de Champagne Lanson and the Bunch Prize, both for articles published in Decanter Magazine. In total, he wrote over 300 wine-related articles. 

In 2001 he was awarded Le Grand Prix de l’Academie Internationale du Vin and The Maestro Award in honor of Andre Tchelistcheff

In 1988 he was made Le Personalite de l’Annee (Oenology) for his services to French wine. He has also received the Ritz Carlton Millennia Singapore Lifetime Achievement Award and the Prix Louis Marinier

He was also a regular judge on the international wine tasting circuit, as the chairman of both the Japan Wine Challenge and the Decanter World Wine Awards.

His Impact

According to Advanced Sommelier Michael A. Descamps, Spurrier was a “titan in the international wine world and the American wine industry.”

Descamps went on to add “Sommeliers like myself owe him a great deal. His organization of the famed ‘Judgment of Paris’ tasting in 1976 helped to open the door to the world (and to many Americans) on the possibility of how great American (California for the tasting) wines could be. 

His work helped bring not just American wines into focus, but also wine in general. As a wine professional, I enjoyed his writing stints with ‘Decanter’ magazine, which often reflected his unique point of view and sardonic wit. 

I am sorry to have not had the chance to have met him, but the many of my colleagues who had always speak of him with reverence and how much a ‘gentleman’ he was. The wine world, and the culinary world at large, lost a giant when they lost him.”

In Closing

There’s no doubt that the impact Steven Spurrier had on the wine industry was huge. He was a larger-than-life (yet quite humble) type of person, often referred to as bringing “youthful enthusiasm” to everything he did. He was a modest man who went from champion of French wines to champion of good wines from around the world. So raise a glass to him the next time you open a bottle of your favorite wine. He will be missed.

About our wine

How to let Wine Breathe

To breathe or not to breathe; that is the question. Of course, we’re talking about wine here. And more importantly, how do we let our wine breathe? Is it necessary? Will it improve my experience?

Let’s take a look. 

What it means

When we talk about letting our wine breathe, it means that we are going to expose the wine to oxygen by allowing it to aerate before drinking. There is always some debate in the industry about whether or not this step is necessary, but aerating some wines is broadly considered to release more of the wine’s aromas and soften the tannins.

Will you taste a difference? 

It really depends on the wine. 

Once a bottle of wine is opened, its characteristics start to change. The decanting process accelerates these changes, more quickly releasing the wine’s aromas from the natural fruit and oak. Decanting can also soften the taste of the tannins that can cause harshness and astringency in young wines.

What types of wine should be aerated?

As with all things wine, personal taste plays a big role in deciding which wines should be aerated. There is no absolute right or wrong answer.

One general rule of thumb though is that young, full-bodied reds, in particular, will benefit from aerating. As mentioned above, aerating will help to soften the tannins and release the natural fruit flavors.

On the other hand, if you have a fragile wine, like an old vintage, aerating can be risky. Fragile wines are much more sensitive once opened and may lose their fruit aromas more quickly. 

How do you let wine breathe?

There are several ways to aerate wine, and it doesn’t require any fancy kitchen gadgets (though it’s fine to use those, too!). 

  1. Decanting
    1. A wine decanter is a vessel, usually made of glass, that is used to serve wine. The process of decanting wine is simply pouring the wine from the bottle into the decanter. 
  2. In The Glass
    1. Swirling the wine in your glass. This can, in some cases, have the same effects as decanting. 
  3. Using an Aerating Device 
    1. These little devices bubble air through wine as it pours, thus creating a speed-decanter. 

Decanter vs. aerator cheat sheet

Aerator: Use on young wines, particularly big, bold, and tannic reds.

Decanter: Use on older wines and more delicate bottles.

Both: For young wines that need as much oxygen as they can get, double up and aerate the wine right into the decanter.

Decanter shape 

For optimal effect, a wide-bottomed decanter that gives maximum air exposure to the wine is your best bet. However, if you are decanting specifically to remove sediment, use a decanter with a narrow shape.

Sediment in Wine

Sediment is a byproduct of winemaking that usually settles to the bottom of your glass. It forms during the fermentation process or while a wine matures in a bottle. Sediment is completely natural and not harmful – it’s mostly made up of bits of seeds, grape skin, and crystal-like tartrates.

If sediment is expected, you can hold a candle to the bottle during decanting to help you see through the glass as you pour. This will give you more control over the pour, and help you to not disturb the sentiment.

Too much oxygen

Yes, you can over-aerate. No matter where a wine comes from, or how old it is, it is possible to overexpose it to oxygen. Keep in mind Pasteur’s experiments and don’t leave your wine out of the bottle for days. 

Too little oxygen

Don’t assume that just leaving an open bottle on the counter is enough to aerate it – it’s not. A wine bottle is way too narrow to allow enough oxygen in.


As in all things wine, personal taste should rule your decision on whether or not to decant your wine. Try different methods with different wines to see what you like and what you could skip. Be careful with older vintages, and don’t let any wine sit out for too long. Wine is for enjoying, and no one wants to wait too long for that first sip.

About our wine

Perfect Wine for a Picnic

Despite the fact that much of the country is buried in snow right now, that shouldn’t stop you from dreaming of the warmer weather of spring and summer! Don’t worry: sunny days, summer food, outdoor dates with friends, and delicious wine are not too far away. In just a few short months, the temperature will heat up, the days will get longer and you know what that means – picnic season! 

What to look for in a picnic wine

When searching for the perfect picnic wine, it is important to keep the following factors in mind. A good picnic wine is a wine that:

  • You already love!
  • Is refreshing on a warm day
  • Is well-balanced and not too overpowering
  • Pairs well with foods of all kinds

When imagining a refreshing wine to sip outdoors in the sun, don’t feel restricted to just white wine! Vibrant and fruit-forward wines don’t have to be white – reds can be equally delicate and delicious on a warm afternoon. Refreshing and light reds that are low in tannins and alcohol levels will not overpower your food while still bringing bright flavors to the table. 

Aim to find reds that feature a light to medium body and dry taste. Wines that are too heavy, sweet, or intense may distract from the delicate picnic fare. Long story short, if you are a red wine lover, embrace it! There is no reason not to enjoy your favorite Byrd Vineyard wines outdoors with a variety of picnic foods.

Picnic foods to pair with wine

Salads of all kinds

Sunny days call for lighter meals featuring bright flavors and fresh fruits and vegetables. Enter: summer salads. Summer is the prime time of year for salads of all kinds, whether the fruit, vegetable, potato, or pasta variety. Whatever you’re craving, you won’t go wrong pairing with elegant Byrd Vineyard wine.

Upgrade your grandma’s potato salad recipe to this (lighter) herbed potato salad with lively flavors of fresh parsley and pair with our 2010 Byrd Merlot. Fruit-forward with herbaceous notes, the wine is sure to complement the herby potatoes. Similarly, this lemon herb pasta salad is bursting with vibrant summer flavors that would pair beautifully with our luscious and herbaceous 2010 Byrdeaux

More traditionally, a grilled summer cobb salad like this one that features tomatoes, corn, avocados, and goat cheese would pair beautifully with our 2010 Byrd Merlot. Feeling fancier? This steak and blue cheese salad would deliciously complement our 2012 Byrd Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino. You can never go wrong pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with meaty dishes, especially when complemented with cheese. Lastly, a summer fruit salad filled with fresh, ripe fruits would pair wonderfully with any of our fruit-forward red wines — whether as the main course or for dessert!


With so many varieties to choose from, you can never go wrong bringing sandwiches to a picnic! Impress your friends with light and summery options like Caprese sandwiches or a herbed chicken salad. Craving something heavier such as ham and cheese sliders or a classic roast beef sandwich? You can’t go wrong! Whichever sandwich you pick, pair with our well-balanced 2009 Byrd Cabernet or smooth and energetic 2012 Byrd Vineyard Red Wine Mendocino.

Charcuterie Boards

It wouldn’t be a picnic without an array of meats, cheeses, crackers, fruits, and nuts to snack on! Build a legendary charcuterie board with salami, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, brie, cheddar, havarti, gouda, crackers, berries, almonds, pistachios, French bread, jams, and whatever else comes to mind. Be creative! Once your epic masterpiece comes together, spend the afternoon grazing with friends and sipping on the best of the best — our Double Gold Medal-winning 2012 Byrd Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino. Silky, rich, and bold, this wine is sure to elevate any picnic into a meal worthy of five stars.

Don’t forget to pack:

  • Corkscrew – This seems obvious, but you’ll regret it if you leave your wine opener at home! 
  • Cups of some kind – Glasses, tumblers, even plastic cups will work! As long as you have some vessel for your wine (ideally one that is not easily breakable and easily transported), you’re good to go.
  • Cooler and ice – Even though red wine isn’t normally enjoyed cooled down, you want to make sure it doesn’t overheat in the hot summer sun. You can serve slightly chilled or allow for the wine to heat back up to cellar temps. 

The key to a great picnic is starting with foods you love and not being afraid to experiment with different wines. Even wines that you never would have thought would complement your favorite picnic bites are worth a try! Be creative. After all, spring is the time to have fun and try new things – that includes awakening your taste buds with delicious new flavor combinations. 

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