Look closely at the Bedarra label and the graphic of the grape leaf that is the Bedarra Vineyards logo. Embedded is the image of a palm tree and that leaf sums up the approach of Jeff and Brigid Harris to winemaking…bring the beach to the vineyard, make beach-worthy wines and capture your memories of the beach.
Jeff and Brigid spent their honeymoon on the magical island on the tip of Queensland, Australia called Bedarra, where you find an intimate resort limited to eighteen guests. The following describes the island experience:
“When you simply do not wish to be found, when you need to escape and unwind, there is no better place to disappear than Bedarra.”
You could say Jeff and Brigid have led a fantasy life from the moment they met at Disney Studios where Jeff was in finance and Brigid on the marketing side. When Jeff took a job at LucasFilm in Marin County and the couple moved to the Bay Area, they discovered the wine country and started educating themselves about wines with the goal of having a vineyard and a label one day. Brigid’s day job was in retail management and marketing and she eventually transitioned that to wine marketing.
Getting married in 2003 at Chateau Souverain (now Francis Ford Coppola Presents) in Geyserville brought them a step closer and soon a second home in Healdsburg with a Chardonnay vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley appellation made the dream a reality.
The fruit was good and well-known local winemaker, Phyllis Zouzounis, came in as consultant and the Bedarra fantasy became a reality in 2006 with the release of their Estate vineyard Chardonnay. Soon after, the Bedarra Reserve Chardonnay and two great blends, Beachfront and Bonfire, that underscore Jeff and Brigid’s love of all things beach. In fact, the remote island resort of Bedarra has carried the Bedarra Wines made in Sonoma County!
The Bedarra wines are, hands down, excellent values for the quality of fruit and winemaking expertise that goes into each bottle. The Beachfront is an easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay blend that screams beach. Citrus on the nose continuing onto the palate with bright acidity that is balanced by the apple tones of the Chardonnay. Perfectly paired with goat cheese, this continually San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition medal-winning wine retails for $18 and is a popular purchase at Locals Tasting Room.
With Brigid working full-time heading up direct-to-consumer marketing for Constellation Brands and Jeff now commuting from Sonoma County to LA where he is CFO for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, aligning with Locals has been crucial to sell wines – and vintages sell out year after year.
The 2012 Chardonnay is another brilliant value at only $19 for this single vineyard, impeccably farmed wine. Apple, caramelized pear and nutmeg aromas give way to flavors of granny apple, ripe pear and pineapple with balanced acid throughout.
Bedarra only makes three barrels of their Reserve Chardonnay and it is a spectacular creamy but still balanced wine at only $29. Aged in French and Hungarian Oak (Jeff, Brigid and winemaker Phyllis tried wine from dozens of different barrels and decided their Chardonnay aged wonderfully in Hungarian) several months longer than the Bedarra Chardonnay, this wine screams vanilla, butterscotch and baked apple on the nose and honey crisp apple and passionfruit on the palate. With a long finish and bright balance, this is a special occasion wine for a song.
The second Bedarra wine with a beach theme is the red blend Bonfire, also $18 at Locals. This Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel blend has plenty of cherry, violet and spice on the nose with black fruit on the palate. It is a perfect beach barbecue wine.
And speaking of reds, their 2012 Primitivo is only 3 barrels of hand-picked and crushed fruit from their Estate vineyard that was meticulously fermented and aged for 18 months. This wine is like a warm berry cobbler a la mode, both in aroma and taste.
Bedarra will soon be moving into more red wines and recently re-planted a vineyard on their new property on Chalk Hill Road in the famed Alexander Valley appellation to Cabernet Sauvignon.
by Barbara Barrielle