About Beaux Frères
The Beaux Frères story began in 1986 when Michael G. Etzel, then a wine salesman in Colorado Springs, embarked on a road trip to Oregon with his young family after reading an enticing review of an ‘83 Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. They took a whimsical detour to check out a foreclosed 88-acre pig farm about 20 minutes from their destination and, upon seeing the idyllic hillside, cute little bungalow, and lush pasture at the top of the dirt road, began to wonder: Could a quiet, wholesome farm life growing grapes for the blossoming local wine scene be possible? With an investment from Michael’s sister Pat and her husband, wine critic Robert Parker Jr., the dream began to take shape. (The name Beaux Frères refers to the French idiom for “brother in law.”) They moved to the farm the following summer, three little boys in tow, and Michael began his focused pursuit as a vineyard manager by planting only Pinot Noir and slowly transforming the farm into their jewel.
At the crest of the property, planting began in 1988 with five acres of vines tightly spaced at a density of about 2,200 plants to the acre. While planting The Beaux Frères Vineyard, Michael worked four harvests at Ponzi Winery. In 1990, he harvested his first crop and sold the grapes, except enough to make one barrel, to winemakers Ken Wright and Dick Ponzi. In 1991, renovation of the main barn made way for Beaux Frères Winery and the first estate vintages of The Beaux Frères Vineyard Pinot Noir followed soon after.
Nestled in the Willamette Valley’s Ribbon Ridge viticultural area (est. 2005) near Newberg, Oregon, the property remains a perfect fit as a new generation, led by winemaker Mike D. Etzel (Michael’s middle son), takes responsibility for stewarding the land and crafting the wines. More than thirty years since their serendipitous encounter with this landscape, three generations of the Etzel family now live on the Ribbon Ridge, diligently caring for this storied property.
Timeline of Key Dates
The Etzel family discovers what would become the Beaux Frères property via a classified ad in the Oregonian newspaper while on a road trip from Colorado Springs. They purchase the foreclosed property with an investment from Michael’s brother-in-law
In what was formerly a dairy pasture on the property, the first wave of plantings was engaged in the spring of 1988. Over the following years, the vineyard would be planted to approximately 25 acres of Pinot Noir vines.
Forgoing their initial vintage to simply plant grapes and sell them, the two founders took on a third partner, Robert Roy, an investor friend from Quebec, and transformed the pig barn into a full-production winery.
A recently harvested forty-acre parcel approximately .25 miles away from the winery was acquired in 1999, with planting for a second estate vineyard beginning in 2000. 30 acres of the property was restored to the native Douglas fir tree, and a 9.11 acre vineyard was planted to the Dijon clone of Pinot Noir.
Michael’s middle son, Mike D. Etzel (known by most as “Mikey”), a year after joining the staff as Vineyard Manager, is named head Winemaker & Viticulturist.
Robert Parker, Jr. and Robert Roy both sold their interests in Beaux Frères to the Henriot Family of Champagne, France, leaving Michael Etzel as the sole founding partner of the winery.
Artemis Domaines, owners of Chateau Latour of Bordeaux and Eisele Vineyard in Napa, among others, merges with the Henriot Family and their collection of houses, including Beaux Frères.