by Fred McMillin
for May 8, 1998

Winery of the Week

Meet Mr. Charbono


Charbono (shar-BOH-no), a grape of French or Italian origin, makes a pleasing, full-bodied red wine in California."

...Schoonmaker Encyclopedia of Wine

The only California winery to make Charbono consistently has been Inglenook. Its first vintage was the 1882; it has always been made there since."

...Eunice Fried, "The Quarterly Review of Wines"

John Richburg joined Inglenook in 1972, became cellarmaster four years later, and winemaker from 1979 until he left in 1994 to start his own winery. Thus, he had worked with 23 vintages of the grape before departing.

The Rest of the Story

Alas, the Richburg-Charbono bond was doomed with the creation of Bayview Cellars, for the new winery had to produce the best-selling varietals Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. BUT WAIT! The sales list shows a '92 CHARBONO! John simply could not let all that expertise go down the tubes. Among the things he likes about the grape is the fact that "its tannins are relatively soft, making it more pleasant to drink at an early age than Cabernet Sauvignon." Charbono likes the northern part of the Napa Valley, the source of the grapes for this wine... And 1992 was an outstanding year. Add John's experience, and you have a robust red you MUST try...exciting with pesto pasta, $16. Now, more about the winery.

Just The Facts

Name—Bayview Cellars
Founders—John Richburg, neighbor-winegrower Ken Laird and their wives Cheryl and Gail .
Origin of Name—The couples' homes are on Bayview Street in the Carneros District of the Napa Valley.
Ken Laird—Has 27 years' vineyard experience; nearly 30 Napa Valley wineries have bought his grapes in the past.
Winemaker & General Manager—John M. Richburg
Phone—(707) 255-8544, FAX—(707) 253-1525


Like John, I have an old bond with Inglenook Charbono. When I bought the 1966 vintage, the winery recommended aging it five to 10 years. I waited five. Then, in one of my wife's cooking classes I served it with a pork and bean cassoulet she had learned in Toulouse. The class gave the combination two thumbs up, according to my dusty old notes.

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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