by Fred McMillin
for March 23, 1998

Those Bynum Winemakers


Winemaker No. 1—Journalist Davis Bynum made such good Cabernet in his converted Bay Area store that connoisseurs pushed him into serious winemaking.

Winemaker No. 2—Moving to the Russian River, the winery winemaking was taken over by U.C.-Davis trained son Hampton Bynum. His Pinot Noir is a translucent ruby wine of aristocratic and noble bouquet.

...by Robert Lawrence Balzer, "California Wines,"1978

Winemaker No. 3—"Gary Farrell, just out of college, joined us in 1974. He helped clear the land and set up the winery. At the winery he did anything and everything, becoming the ultimate cellar rat."

...by Founder Davis Bynum

The Rest of the Story

How did the cellar rat do? As the winery grew, Hampton was overloaded, so Gary became head winemaker in 1978. Eleven years and hundreds of medals later, Gary was honored as California winemaker of the Year by the Los Angeles Times! What was his secret?

Davis says Gary "is without doubt one of the most thorough, meticulous people I've ever encountered in this business." To sample the results, try the Bynum Russian River Pinot Noir. The winery made the first Pinot to be labeled "Russian River" over twenty years ago, and it keeps getting better. Not so long ago in a major competition, 17 medals were awarded to Pinot Noir wines...Gary had made six of the winners!

The Wine

1995 Limited Edition Pinot Noir, Russian River
Davis Bynum Winery, Healdsburg, Sonoma County
Contact—Christin Welling, (800) 499-1943, X-15
Winemaking—Remember that "meticulous" approach? The limited editions are stirred by hand five times a day during the week or so of fermentation.
Tasting Notes—Rich blackberry, smooth French oak
Price—$28 range

Postcript -Name the Sommelier

Journalist-vintner Davis Bynum's skills with words and wine did not come as a suprise. His father, Lindley Bynum, was a noted UCLA historian and one of the early wine judges at the annual Los Angeles County Fair. For more Bynum banter, see the Jan. 20, 1997 WineDay about how Davis made his first wine in the basement using 50 lbs. Of Petite Sirah purchased from someone you may have heard of...Robert Mondavi.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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