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. 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.
Tom has been focused on the cultivation of his estate vineyards and new innovations for winegrowing in the Santa Ynez Valley. 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. 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 Rhône 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 over 20 years overseeing Beckmen Vineyards’ acclaimed estate vineyard and wine program. 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 to guide Beckmen’s winemaking. Widely recognized as a viticultural leader and an innovative winegrower in the Santa Barbara community, Steve is a key figure in California’s Rhône varietal movement.
Founded in 1994 by Tom and Steve Beckmen, Beckmen Vineyards is a family-run, estate winery located in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. Since its founding, Beckmen Vineyards has emerged as one of North America’s premier producers of Rhône varietal wines, while also helping to establish Santa Barbara County as one of California’s most highly regarded winegrowing regions.
Eager to return to his farming roots, and convinced of the Santa Ynez Valley’s vast potential to produce world-class wines, Tom Beckmen began searching for promising vineyard property in the early ‘90s. He found what he was looking for on a 40-acre parcel of land with an existing small winery. There he established Beckmen Vineyards. Working together, Tom and Steve began revitalizing the site. Convinced that the vineyard had been planted incorrectly, they painstakingly removed the 16 original acres of vines, and replanted the vineyard with carefully selected varietals, clones and rootstocks.
Committed to building a world-class estate-vineyard program, the Beckmens also purchased a spectacular, unplanted 365-acre Santa Ynez Valley ranch in 1996. Naming it Purisima Mountain Vineyard, Tom and Steve began a meticulous planting process designed to maintain the natural diversity of the site. With an ideal climate and rare limestone subsoils similar to those found in Côte Rôtie and Châteauneuf du Pape, the vineyard has proven perfect for producing a range of stunning Rhône varietals, especially Syrah and Grenache.
Under the care and guidance of Tom and Steve, Purisima Mountain Vineyard has earned acclaim as one of California’s great Rhône-varietal vineyards. Adding to its reputation as one of the most meticulously cultivated winegrowing sites in all of Santa Barbara County, the vineyard has been farmed 100 percent biodynamically since 2006, and was certified biodynamic and organic in 2009. Reflecting a passion for quality and a belief in the natural character of the land, the adoption of biodynamic farming practices has only reinforced Steve’s vineyard-focused style of winemaking. Believing that the wine in the bottle begins in the soil, Steve and the winemaking team craft wines that capture the unique terroir of Purisima Mountain.
Beckmen Vineyards produces a full line of exceptional estate-grown Rhône varietals including Syrah, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Rosé, and the Cuvée Le Bec blend. It also produces small quantities of exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.