An Invitation to US Slow Wine + Slow Food and A Visit To Snail Winner Santa Barbara County’s Biodynamic Beckmen Vineyards #WinePW

(Updated 4/12/22 with pre-order info). Steve Beckmen says when growing grapes, he lets them be what they will be, and when making wine, he lets the wine do what it is going to do. His vineyards look different than what’s expected and that’s fine by him because healthy vines lead to delicious naturally made wines. Demeter certified in 2009, the Santa Ynez family owned and operated biodynamic leader Beckmen Vineyards continues to experiment and learn from the vines to make the best biodynamic and most natural wines possible. These are just a few of the reasons why Beckmen Vineyards is in Slow Wine Guide USA and received the prestigious SNAIL award from the Slow Wine Guide in the new 2023 edition which can be pre-ordered here NOW and will be released in a few weeks. Three of their wines are included in the Guide, and all three were nominated for “Slow” wine awards– but only one is allowed!

A draft of the Slow Wine Guide “Snail” designation reads: “A Ballard Canyon benchmark, Beckmen’s biodynamic farming and acclaimed wines make it a winner.”

In April, we invited our fellow wine writers to discover the wines of the Italian edition of Slow Wine Guide — or to write about wines that deserve to be included paired with a menu that evokes also the ethos of the “Slow Food” movement. The Slow Wine Guide for Italy reviews more than 2,500 wines and 300 wineries offering a comprehensive guide of Italian wines available in three languages: German, Italian, and English.

cover to Slow Wine Guide 2022 edition

This May we invite fellow wine writers to learn more about the wineries of Slow Wine Guide USA; the new edition can be preordered NOW from Amazon here and comes out in May and will be widely available in stores, at wineries, and online. Details on how to join us and more about Beckmen’s wines follow.  Like its Italian counterpart, The US Slow Wine Guide — published annually as a pdf and in print– considers wine quality, adherence to terroir, value for money, and environmental sensitivity. Wineries that use herbicides, pesticides, and petroleum based fertilizers for example are not included.

Slow Wine Manifesto

In short, the Italian Manifesto for Good, Clean, and Fair Wine requires Italian wineries to:

  • grow a minimum of 70% of their grapes, with a few exceptions.
  • refuse to use chemically synthesized fertilizers, herbicides or anti-botrytis fungicides
  • approach winemaking sustainably
  • use “natural” winemaking techniques
  • avoid enhancements like oak chips
  • use only the low levels of sulfites allowed by the organic standard of the EU
  • reflect their place of origin
  • encourage biodiversity
  • create a supportive community

The US Slow Wine Guide aims to accomplish the same– and will be available soon to order from the Slow Food Website also!

While other guides limit their relationship to a blind tasting and brief write up, Slow Wine gets personal with each winery to get to know the wines and the wineries — over 400 of them– then selects those for how they reflect their local terroir and practice sustainable methods that benefit the environment. Snail recipient wineries are 100% free of chemical herbicides.

It takes quite a team to put together a guide such as this:

  • Giancarlo Gariglio: Editor-in-chief
  • Deborah Parker Wong: Coordinating Editor
  • Pam Strayer: Senior Editor
  • Editorial Assistant: Jonathan Gebser
  • Contributing Editors: Gwendoyln Alley, Peg Champion, Catherine Fallis, MS, Charles Kelly, Laurie Love, Sally Ohlin, Karla Ravandi, Leslie Rosa, Amber Turpin, L.M. Archer, Sophia McDonald Bennett, Catherine Fallis, MS, Ellen Landis, Neal D. Hulkower, Ph.D., Nancy Crosier, Robin Shreeves, and Kathleen Wilcox

In addition to the Snail award for a winery and wine, wines can earn the following designations:

  • Everyday Wines represent excellent value at prices $30 and under.
  • The Bottle goes to those wineries whose wines offer outstanding sensory quality throughout the range;
  • The Coin goes to those estates offering excellent value for the money.

Can’t wait? You can get a print edition of the 2021 guide from Amazon now here.

Pre-order the new US Slow Wine Guide edition here; release date is May 15, 2022..

You can also learn about the Slow Wine scene in China by purchasing the 2022 SLG China here.

Beckmen Vineyards Map with Steve Beckmen at the register

And now, back to biodynamic Beckmen, the perfect winery for celebrating Earth Month, California Sustainable Winery Month, and the upcoming release of the 2022 Slow Wine Guide!

To build Beckman, in 1994, Tom Beckmen used funds raised from his pioneering career in electronic music technology to purchase, plant, and farm the original 25 acre estate vineyards of grave­ly, well-drained soil starting with Caber­net Sauvi­gnon and small amounts of Grenache, Mourve­dre, and Syrah. On the west­ern side of the Bal­lard Canyon AVA, they now also have 365 acres with 125 acres planted on clay and clay loam with a lime­stone sub­soil which pro­duces intense­ly fla­vored Sauvi­gnon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Viog­nier, and Chardon­nay, Syrah, Grenache, Mourve­dre, and Counoise. With 150 acres under vine, Beckmen produces an annual average of 18K cases, some of which are widely available.

Steve Beckmen ponders his new project, the Ballard Canyon Purisima Vineyard 1ngredient 2019

Best known for their Syrahs and for their leadership in being Ballard Canyon pioneers, Steve has an exciting new side project of very small lot wines called “1ngredient”  which features wines made without sulfites.

One of these wines earned a coveted “Slow Wine” award: Ballard Canyon Purisima Vineyard 1ngredient 2019 (SRP) $65. The new edition of the Slow Wine Guide describes this Viognier as a golden rich beer color, that “went through ML to offer an unusual vibrant nose of intense florals, stone fruit, and spice, with a well structured, textural palate of ginger, apricot, and mango with a long mineral finish.”

Steve contemplates the Beckmen Vineyard Ballard Canyon Purisima Mountain Vineyard Clone #1 Syrah 2019 which is in the upcoming Slow Wine Guide.

The Beckmen Vineyard Ballard Canyon Purisima Mountain Vineyard Clone #1 Syrah 2019 (525 cases, $72) also appears in the Guide with the description: “From the first harvest in 2001, this limestone grown syrah is a stunner in deep plum with a big rich bacon gaminess yet balance and elegance on the palate.” Que Syrah Sue bought this one; hope she shares it with me!

Beckmen Vineyards Grenache and Grenache blend paired with osso bucco, greens, and beet salad


We tasted both vintages with Steve; there’s an intensity to the 2018 vintage that called to me so that’s what I purchased.

  • 2018 Beckman Vineyards  “Grenache Block Eight” Purisima Mountain Vineyard, Ballard Canyon AVA

  • 2018 Beckman Vineyards “Barrel Select Cuvee” Santa Ynez Valley 


  • Cheese board
  • Fresh sautéed dandelion greens
  • Arugula, beet, and blue cheese salad
  • Osso bucco instant pot beef stew on mashed potatoes

Soulful Steve Beckmen

2018 Beckman Vineyards  “Grenache Block Eight” Purisima Mountain Vineyard, Ballard Canyon AVA

ABV 15.2%
SRP $56
425 cases
purchased at the tasting room

Slow Wine Guide describes the 2019 wine as: “Twenty year old vines allowed to bush out provide one third whole cluster to add texture to the mid-palate for this juicy, spicy, pretty grenache with a lovely carnation and herbal nose.”

I love Grenache, and I fell in love with this one. About the 2018, we find:

Color: Ruby with a mauve rim, medium density

Aroma: Nice perfume, spicy carnation, rose petals, eucalyptus. There is a bit of alcohol burn, so don’t stick your nose completely into the glass, let it breath for a while, red hot candies, sweet and spicy,

Palate: The nose completely comes across on the palate, with red hot candies, sweet and spicy, spicy carnation, rose petals, eucalyptus, also very textural.

Pairing: Great with the welshichire blueberry cheese, fantastic with the snowdonia sharp cheddar cheese. Fantastic with the beef stew– loves the rosemary accents in the dish.


2018 Beckman Vineyards “Barrel Select Cuvee” Santa Ynez Valley

2018 Beckman Vineyards “Barrel Select Cuvee” Santa Ynez Valley 

Grapes: 48% Syrah, 27% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre
ABV 15.0%
SRP $60
350 Cases
purchased at the tasting room

I fell in love with this wine in the tasting with Steve and had to bring it home! What a special treat!

Color: Medium density, ruby, pink rim, bright in color, lightly cloudy.

Aroma: Herbs, savory, mossy creek, minerals, alcohol is present, sage, pepper, raspberry, a hint of blueberry,

Palate: Blueberry, black pepper, sour grass finish, interesting texture, (possibly whole cluster?). After being opened for a while, the alcohol blows off.

Pairing: Great with the welshishire cranberry cheese, loves the aged manchego, even better with the snowdonia aged cheddar, the wine loves strong cheeses and fruit, nice with our rosemary almonds. Good with the salad, but even better when the cracker was enjoyed with the salad. Great with the beef stew loving the rosemary beef flavors.

Slow Wine Guide authors and editors in San Francisco January 2022

This May, the Wine Pairing weekend group of wine writers will select wines from the US Slow Wine Guide and pair them. The 2022 Guide features wines from nearly 300 wineries and reviews nearly 1000 wines from California, Oregon, Washington, and New York. You’re invited to join us by writing an article or participating in our twitter chat Sat. May 14; directions below.

You’re invited to join Wine Pairing Weekend in celebrating Slow Food and Slow Wine in the United States!

  1. You have a month to find one or more wines from the US Slow Wine Guide to pair with a food that celebrates the concept behind the Slow Food Movement. If you are participating and would like a pdf of the 2021 Guide, comment below and/or email me: gwendolynalley AT yahoo DOT com.
  2. The wine/s can be from any grape in any style– red, white, rose, orange, sparkling, sweet– and from any/all of the four states that the Guide covers: California, Oregon, Washington, and/or New York.
  3. An emphasis this month is on pairing Slow Wines with Slow Foods; please share your pairings, lessons learned, successes and failures.
  4. Sponsored posts and sample wines are fine as long as they are identified as such.
  5. We love to read about the stories behind the wine and why you chose it, but this month is it particularly important to learn more about how the grapes are grown.
  6. We love to learn about travel to the region of the United States where your wine/s came from.
  7. During MAY, get your title to me by email, comment below, or post in the Facebook event under the title thread before Tuesday EOD May 10, 2022 please.
  8. From Friday May 13 at 9am to Saturday May 14 at 9am, please publish your post and include #WinePW in the title of your article.
  9. Append to your post the preliminary HTML to link to other participants; it can be found on the Facebook event page.
  10. Join our 8am Pacific twitter chat on Sat. May 14 by following the hashtag #WinePW. Prompts will be posted here at Wine Predator in the Preview Post the day before.
  11. Read around, comment, and share each other’s posts about the Slow Food, Slow Wine Movement in the US.
  12. As soon as it is available, add the final HTML to your post which links to participants’ published posts.

Have fun! Happy Earth Month! Watch for the PREVIEW POST MAY 11, 2022!

Email me with any questions: gwendolynalleyATyahooDOTcom.

Beckmen and osso bucco





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