The son of a cattle buyer, Tom Beckmen spent his childhood working on a local ranch outside of Chicago, gathering onions and picking tomatoes. This early experience helped him to develop a connection with the land and expertise as a hands-on farmer. Raised with an extensive understanding of agriculture, he put himself through college by managing farm programs.
In addition to his farming experience, Tom is also an accomplished entrepreneur. In the early sixties, Tom was a traveling salesman or "music man" for twenty states. During this time, he noted the great changes that were taking place in the music industry. Seizing the moment, Tom founded the visionary Roland Corporation U.S., pioneering electronic music and creating the merger of music and computer applications. This revolutionary company and its products profoundly influenced the production of music worldwide.
The heart of Tom's entrepreneurial success has always been his ability to look towards the future and embrace new challenges. This desire to continually evolve and test himself prompted Tom to sell Roland in 1993 and pursue a life of winegrowing.
Since founding Beckmen Vineyards with his son Steve in 1994, Tom has been focused on the cultivation of his estate vineyards and new innovations for winegrowing in the Santa Ynez Valley. He brings both business acumen and a respect for the hard work of farming to Beckmen Vineyards. In wine, as in everything else, Tom is driven to go beyond expectations. His vision and patience have guided the maturing of Beckmen's estate vineyards and the production of the winery's acclaimed portfolio of handcrafted wines. "My wines must be worthwhile for me, my family and the public who drink them."
Tom enjoys both the natural beauty and the peace of the vineyards that surround his home, where he lives with his wife, Judy. As a hands-on farmer, driving the tractor and working the vines, he has helped to establish Purisima Mountain Vineyard as a world-class winegrowing site, and the source of some of North America's most highly prized Rhone varietal wines. He has also been an important figure in the emergence of Santa Barbara County as one California's preeminent winegrowing regions.
As both a winegrower and a winemaker, Steve Beckmen has spent nearly 15 years overseeing Beckmen Vineyards' acclaimed estate vineyard and wine program. From his work planting and cultivating the winery's renowned Purisima Mountain Vineyard to his focus on Rhone varietal wines and his adoption of biodynamic farming techniques, Steve has earned a reputation as one of Santa Barbara County's most innovative winegrowers. His efforts have helped to establish the area as a world-class winegrowing region, while also earning Beckmen Vineyards acclaim as one of North America's leading producers of Rhone varietal wines.
Like his father, Tom, Steve discovered a passion for agriculture and the land early on, working in his mother's garden growing vegetables and berries and exploring the canyon land around the family home in Malibu. In 1994, Steve joined Tom in founding Beckmen Vineyards. Combining his interest in agriculture with a propensity for intricate, analytical thinking, Steve quickly displayed a natural aptitude for winegrowing and winemaking. To further hone his skills, Steve worked side-by-side with Beckmen's original viticulturalist, Jeff Newton. "There was a steep learning curve in those early years," says Steve. "I learned how to plant a vineyard, to train it and prune it. It quickly became apparent to me that my winemaking style reflected a natural focus on the vineyards."
Steve soon refined his own distinct viticultural philosophy. Based on capturing the natural diversity and potential of a site, this philosophy found its expression during the planting of Purisima Mountain Vineyard. "Planting Purisima was one of the most exciting experiences of my life," says Steve. "It was remarkable to take a great raw piece of land, to design it and then to plant it. Starting with a vision and ending with a great bottle of wine is incredibly rewarding."
Cultivating Purisima Mountain Vineyard also helped to solidify Steve's winemaking style. As with his approach to viticulture, this style focuses on maintaining character and diversity. During any given vintage, Steve individually ferments as many as 100 small lots of fruit, often employing techniques such as native yeast fermentation or whole cluster pressing to highlight the personality of a given clone or block. Described by Steve as both "hands-off" and "hands-on," this approach has resulted in an acclaimed portfolio of wines that consistently bridge the divide between power and elegance.
Today, Steve oversees all aspects of production, managing the viticultural program and working alongside winemaker Mikael Sigouin to guide Beckmen's winemaking. Widely recognized as a viticultural leader within the Santa Barbara winegrowing community and a key figure in California's Rhone varietal movement, Steve has been a keynote speaker at Hospice du Rhone.