Bosché: One of the First Vineyard Designate Wines in California
Since the 1970 vintage, the Bosché name has graced wine labels at Freemark Abbey, the one and only winery for almost half a century to bottle wine from the legendary vineyard.
“You know, if you look at the early vineyard designates in California history, Cabernet Bosché was certainly one of the first,” Winemaker Emeritus Ted Edwards observed on an early December walk through the Rutherford vineyard. “And this holds true for Freemark Abbey and the partners as being a pioneering winery and pioneering families of the Valley.”
There is probably no one more qualified to comment on the track record of this 22-acre gem, long acknowledged as one of the premier vineyards in Napa Valley. Ted has worked with the grapes since his earliest days at Freemark Abbey in 1980, when Bosché fruit was already producing an established single-vineyard wine. He possesses back-of-the-hand knowledge of the estate’s topography and can frame it neatly within the Rutherford AVA’s famous soil profile. “The gravelly soil just doesn’t hold the water,” he explained. “This is really what you’d call ‘well-drained’ soil. So when people talk about the Rutherford Bench and gravelly clay loam, Bosché is it. I mean, this is on that plateau, the alluvial fan that sloughed off of the Mayacamas Mountains”
Then, with his back to these same mountains, he gestured all around. “This is the heart of the Rutherford Bench.”
A Family-Owned Tradition
The Bosché family planted their eponymous vineyard in the mid-1960s on a piece of land kitty-corner to a pair of historic properties, Beaulieu Vineyards and Inglenook. There’s a lovely but unassuming home adjacent to the vineyard, along with a swimming pool and a grove of olive trees.
Larry Bosché, a longtime private wine consultant and auction specialist in the Bay Area, remembers as a child in the 1970s coming up to Rutherford for weekend picnics on his parents’ property. Later, as a young wine enthusiast in the 80s, he got to know Ted and his wines.
“They have that essential character, with the wine coming from Rutherford fruit,” he shared over the phone recently. “I just think Ted does a great job. His Cabernet Bosché has always had the Rutherford ‘dust’ and a nice, earthy quality to it. He’s always done a very good job of letting that shine through, while not over-oaking the wine or manipulating it. I think he’s really great at what he does, and that shows in the Bosché wines that he’s produced.”