by Petrus Bekker
For wine enthusiasts who dare to veer off the beaten path, determined to discover a unique Napa Valley wine, Eeden, in the Spring Mountain District offers such an opportunity. Eeden Vineyards is located on Spring Mountain Road, approximately 3 miles from St. Helena. The first time we took the journey up Spring Mountain Road, it was hard to imagine that there could be vineyards tucked away in the majestic forest of redwoods, firs, and pines. However, as we drove up the road, we suddenly reached a plateau that offered a majestic view of the Napa valley. Since our arrival at Eeden, sporadic discoveries have provided pieces of the puzzle of Eeden’s history. These include a wooden beam with the words La Granja, the farm, carved into it; original architectural floor plans of the three-bedroom main residence of Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Beringer, drawn by architect J. Clarence Felciano; wooden grape collection boxes with the names Beringer Bros. and Olga Beringer stamped on the sides; and the words Los Hermanos Vineyards painted on one of the buildings. Together, these discoveries revealed that the property once belonged to the Beringer family. Charles was the son of Jacob Beringer. Jacob established the first Beringer vineyard and winery in St. Helena in 1876. In 1914, Charles and other family members incorporated Beringer Brothers Los Hermanos Vineyards. Based on a picture painting we discovered, Charles and his wife Olga also established the first vineyards at Eeden in the 1930s.
When reading the history of the times, it is clear that Charles’ sister, Bertha, was quite imaginative in preventing the demise of the Beringer empire during Prohibition. Based on her idea, they turned the grapes into raisin cakes, which were allowed under the Volstead act to make “non-intoxicating cider and fruit juices for home consumption”. However, as you can imagine, the raisin cakes were easily turned into wine. Attractive young demonstrators in department stores “warned” potential buyers not to leave the raisin cakes in jugs for 21 days after adding liquid, because they would turn the liquid into wine. Furthermore, they pointed out that customers should not cork the liquid, because that was only necessary for fermentation to occur! Sufficed to say that many raisin cakes were turned into wine, if one could call it that.
In 2002, only remnants of the vineyards remained, even though the age-old stone terraces along the rows of vineyards survived. We replanted the vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Sirah vines.
The name Eeden is not only a family name, but also a name indicating that this garden could have been Eden. We invite you to come experience a piece of wine history, enjoy the inspiring views of the Napa Valley, and taste our wine. Visit us at eedenwines.com.
3505 Spring Mountain Road
St. Helena, CA 94574
Tours and tastings at Eeden Vineyards are private and arranged by appointment only.
Phone: 707.337.5526 www.eedenwines.com