BD10 SPONSOR FEATURE: Franny Beck Wines

Michael Sterling here, owner and winemaker at Franny Beck Wines. Todd has been gracious enough to, once again, give me the opportunity to share our story with you. Many of you have come to visit our new tasting room or visit with me in the barrel room. Many more have had us visit in their home where we were able to share some bottles and amazing meals. For everyone else, I hope this little snippet is inspiring enough that you explore some of our Berserker Day packages.

As native Virginians, our first trip to Oregon was in the middle of harvest 2008. My wife Al had just started medical school and we were starting to dip our toes into wine from the Willamette Valley. On a visit to Penner Ash, they let me get up on a fermenter and do punch downs. Well, that was it. It was over. I knew right then and there that I wanted to be a winemaker and we were going to make Pinot in the Willamette Valley. In fact, I have a picture of the exact moment I decided to become a winemaker. How great is that, really?! If you look at the picture below, you might be able to make out that exact thought on my face!

I got my start in California at Kosta Browne and then cut my teeth working through cellars on the East Coast while Al was in medical school and finishing a general surgery residency. In 2014 we couldn’t wait any longer and made the leap. We purchased four tons of high quality, beautiful, perfect Pinot Noir and were finally able to put all the planning, philosophizing and dreaming into practice. Head first, eyes wide open!

It really is refreshing to be able to take all the ideas in your head and put them into practice. Well, refreshing and pretty scary. But, hell, you only get one go at this thing so why not go at it the way you believe it should be! Thus far, I’m pretty pleased with the results.

So, a note on our style: The byline on all our winery literature is “vintage specific, vineyard centered, elegant & honest.” These are all things we believe and focus on in our winemaking. I believe that vintage matters, especially in Oregon. It’s what makes Oregon special and unique. While the most recent vintages have seemed very similar, the small distinctions have pushed each vintage into its own complex network of variables. It always makes me sad to hear people write off vintages as simply hot or wet or cold. Those that pass on an entire vintage from the Willamette Valley because of blanket reports are really missing out on some special wines!

We are vineyard centered in that we try to source fruit that’s been grown the right way, with the lowest amount of impact as possible. We work with vineyards throughout the valley: Armstrong in the Ribbon Ridge; Bieze, Prophet and La Chenaie in the Eola-Amity Hills; and Johan Vineyard in the new Van Duzer Corridor AVA. Each of these sites and growers are committed to sustainable, organic, and conscientious farming. While I’m no farmer, I’ve found the low impact focus in these vineyards allows the place shine without the haze of external unnecessary practices.

Finally, we want to produce wines that are both elegant and honest, mainly because those are the types of wines we love to drink. So, it stands to reason that we’d try to emulate that in our own wines. We try our best to be minimalists in our winemaking. While I’m not dogmatic about it, I know that less is more, especially when working with Pinot. I’m no rocket scientist, so simply put, I’m just not smart enough to use all the stuff out there!

Early in my career I worked under a winemaker who taught me what it was to make “pretty” wines. That idea really stuck in my head and I’ve not been able to shake it ever since, thank goodness. So, if people drink my wines and find them to be pretty, I’ve accomplished my goal!

We’ve received some very flattering press on our wines which you can find here: I’m also including a link to our main Cellartracker page where you can find consumer reviews for our wines:

What I love most is that, whether professional or laymen, the tasting notes for our wines reflect the elegance, restraint and balance that I absolutely strive for in my wines. It pleases me to no end that others, almost across the board, find these qualities in the wine! A growing number of Berserkers have had our wines, hopefully some will chime in with their thoughts. I’d love to answer any questions you all have. I’m an open book for the most part and happy to share more details about who we are and what we do, just ask!

For Berserker Day X we’ll be offering very similar deals in scope to previous Berserker Days, but with much deeper discounts! You can expect to see packs both small and large but, to be certain, everything will be an unbelievable deal! The goal with this year is to offer those that are new to Franny Beck a really nice snapshot into who we are while giving our most ardent fans a chance to restock their cellars with some fantastic Franny Beck deals. Cheers!

Tasting Room
108 5th St.
Amity, OR 97101

Hi Michael,

I ordered your four pack last year and just popped a couple corks last week - my wife and I were very impressed! We have come to really appreciate OR wines and more importantly the farmers, winemakers and people. We plan to visit the area again in the upcoming year. You asked for feedback and impressions and I can say we will be in contact for a visit one day and I look forward to your offer this weekend. I try to buy at least one offer each year that is a completely unknown and so glad I stumbled on FB last year (a nod from Marcus Goodfellow also made this an easy decision)!

Excellent wine and good people!

Hey Bill, thank you so much. When y’all get ready to head this way, send me an email. We can dip into some barrels and see some of the cool things we’ve been working on in the winery! If you liked that 4 pack, you are going to really, really dig this latest Berserker Day Deal!

Looks like this is going on my to-do list on Sunday.

My man Rick! Hey, on Sunday make sure to remind me if you need fedex or UPS. [cheers.gif] I did a trade tasting in Denver last fall and sat in a bit of that Denver traffic. Oof!

Looking forward to getting some of our wines into your hands. We’ve got a pretty good following in the Dallas/Ft Worth area.

Heh, now you know why I don’t want to drive 15-18 miles to the UPS facility. Better to have it held nearby by Fedex.

Franny Beck … hell yeah, I’m a fan.


Hey Peter, thanks for the shout out! Much appreciated. I’ve got some good offers for you this year- simultaneously try some new things and stock up the cellar. I think you’ll be pleased.

keep up the good work dude!

Franny Beck has been perhaps my favorite discovery of the four or five years I’ve Berserkered. Delicious, approachable pinot that evokes a strong sense of place. Michael’s wines have featured at our Thanksgiving and Christmas tables the past couple years to universal enjoyment. And it was a treat to stop into their charming tasting room this past summer and spend time with Michael himself. A generous host and pinotvangelist. Ask him about North Carolina wine. Don’t ask him about the University of Virginia’s basketball team in March Madness.

Thanks for coming back, Michael!

Looking forward to your BD offer this weekend! My tasting notes for one of your pinots remarked that it was “a very pretty, easy-drinking wine.” For me, the best pinots should be described as elegant. Sold!

These wines are great, and Michael and Al are wonderful people! If if you have not tried yet, this should be on your short list. Definitely the most elegant pinots we had on our trip to Oregon last summer. You can see my notes here:

Ha! My Hoos look good this year! Next time y’all come up, I’ll make sure Al is around so you can meet her, too. Beyond honored to hear that our wines were opened for friends and family on such big occasions. Thanks to both you and Nicki!

Michael: if it’s appropriate, can you say what new offerings/varietals you’ll be bringing online this spring, whether or not you offer them on BD?

In true WB fashion, I met Michael and Al before they moved from VA. They came over to pick up wine shippers for their move, and we had a great talk about wine in general, and Oregon Pinot Noirs specifically. I was thrilled when they turned up a few years ago here on BD! I love their wines, and I’ve been kicking myself since last year that I didn’t ask for more Rose’ in my BDIX order. Can’t wait to see what they’ve got this time!

Hey Steve, music to my ears! Glad to have back for some more Franny Beck. I’ve got some current and past vintage deals for you to catch up on!

Thanks Tim, your write up was fantastic. Hope it helps some folks with their decisions on BDay. Especially since you and your fam were the first people to try the new ‘16s! If I remember correctly, they had literally just gone into bottle when y’all visited. Definitely had some time to come together a bit!

Everything will be illuminated very soon!