What’s with the Names?

Bottle of Tamber Bey Rabicano

So, what’s with the unusual names, anyway? Let’s start with Tamber Bey. Vintner Barry Waitte is an avid horseman. When he founded the wine company in 1999, he didn’t want to name it after himself in the event he elected to sell it someday. He wanted a creative name that reflected who he was. This is more difficult than it seems. If you were to start your own wine company, what would you call it? High likelihood whatever name you choose is already taken. (Just for fun, pick a name for your fictional wine company and then Google it.)

At the time, Barry owned two horses, Tamborina and Beyamo. Their barn names (nicknames) were Tamber and Bey. While he was out riding one day, he had what he calls a “Nike moment.” Why not name the wine company after his two horses? Hence, Tamber Bey.

Next, Deux Chevaux Vineyard. This is French for “two horses.” Yes, it is also a funky French car. However, as it pertains to the name of the vineyard, it was selected to pay homage to the first two horses of Tamber Bey, the above-mentioned Arabians, Tamborina and Beyamo. As a sidenote, the original name of the vineyard was Two Rivers, which Barry chose to reflect the two personalities of the Napa River that runs along the vineyard’s west boundary. Those two personalities? Dry or not dry (as in flooding, which it does frequently). So, starting with the 2006 vintages of wine from this Yountville Appellation vineyard, you will see the designation, Deux Chevaux Vineyard. The name change was somewhat forced. It turned out that there was a wine company in Colorado called the Two Rivers Winery. The owners took exception to us using their name for our vineyard. Because they had trademarked the term, we had to change the name of the vineyard to something else. We learned our lesson and have since trademarked every name we use. We’ve even trademarked names we haven’t used yet.

Finally, there’s Rabicano, Sabino and Tovero. These are our original three Bordeaux-style blends that we make from the Deux Chevaux Vineyard. Each term refers to a color coat pattern of a horse. Barry was inspired to name the three blends after these color coat patterns because he found the artful connection between the blending of varietals and the blending of hair colors. Rest assured, however, there is no horsehair in the wines, or vice versa. These names are what we call in the wine biz “fanciful names.” Although some may be confused by these unusual names, the strategy behind selecting them is straightforward. For example. Rabicano is a Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend. It must contain at least 75% Cab Sauv to call it Cabernet Sauvignon. However, it doesn’t meet this criterion. We didn’t want to name it something pedestrian like Red Wine or Red Blend, so we selected Rabicano. And even if it did contain enough Cabernet Sauvignon to call it that, it would be confused with our 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the same vineyard.

Finally, the mighty Bordeaux-style Blend, Vermejo (ver-meh-ho). This is an old word of Spanish origin to describe the color of red earth. This is a term we stumbled upon and loved enough to trademark with the idea that someday we would make a wine worthy of this beautiful name.