Box Wine Company: A Fusion of Surfing, Art and Viticulture Along the North Coast 

By Published On: July 1, 2022

On a cold foggy day with the wind blowing like crazy along Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California, strong currents and massive waves cascading along the coast, you would have found young Wesley Box on his boogie board braving the elements and thirsting for adventure.   Back in the 1990s, surfing up and down the coast of Northern California, Wesley became interested in geology as he noticed the Marin Headlands, just north of the City known for its breathtaking ocean views, cliffs and unique rock types.

Eventually, Wesley started working in the action sports industry taking his love of surfing and adventure one step further and making a living promoting brands around the world, traveling from Australia, to Hawaii and back again.  Along this journey to support himself, he started working in restaurants, which helped seal the deal that wine could be a viable career path.

Image: Wesley Box

The restaurant experiences gave him a solid foundation where he was constantly learning about new wines on the fly and having to adjust in the moment.  Whether it was managing a Burgundy list at a Michelin-rated restaurant or immersing himself in a food pairing at a quaint Italian bistro–these opportunities gave Wesley the tools and the sales skills to take his wine passions further.  Over the next few years, he worked in wine bars and tasting rooms before moving over to the production side after the downturn in 2008.

In 2016, while working at a custom crush facility in Saint Helena, Wesley started doing some of his own home winemaking.  Andy DuVigneaud of Bee Hunter Wines was kind enough to give him some Syrah grapes to make 25 cases with, which were bootlegged to friends and family. The encouragement he received from family and his winemaking peers was the key driver to make his first commercial vintage, again utilizing fruit from Broken Leg Vineyard, located in Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. For the initial Anderson Valley wines, they were bottled under the label Briney Glimmer, which is Boontling slang for “a lighthouse”. The label naturally evolved into the Box Wine Company, which Wesley along with his wife Jessica manage.

“My plan was to simply make single vineyard wines from the North Coast bottling them under different names–multiple branding concepts inspired by Bonny Doon, and the Hobo [Wine Co] approach,” said Wesley.  “There is wisdom in the marketing choices those guys made over the years and I admire their unique perspectives. Now we are six vintages deep into this art project.”

The Box Wine Company works with multiple vineyard partners. Their sourcing strategy is focusing on the geology and climate with a preference on organic or biodynamically farmed grapes.   Wesley’s interest in the ocean also plays a key factor in where they buy grapes from. He gets excited about the oceanic and fault zone uplifted soils of areas like the Sonoma Coast, Mendocino Ridge and Yorkville. 

Rhone varieties have been a key part of the Box Wine Company portfolio.  They released a Syrah from Knights Valley in Sonoma County, sourcing the grapes from Moran Manor, which sits in the shadow of the northern face of Mt. Saint Helena.  “I blended in about 14 percent Fountain Grove District Sangiovese Grosso to that wine as a typical style choice I take with warmer climate Syrah sites.  I love the dusty cranberry aspect of Sangiovese–fine grain tannins that come from the Knights Valley are just amazing,” said Wesley.

Image: Joe Campbell

As a small producer, Box Wine Company’s strategy is to continue to source fruit from new vineyards while gradually increasing their purchasing power– not an easy thing making small lot wines–but the path forward for independent producers. Interesting times as pandemic supply chain disruptions and tariffs have resulted in the wine industry contracting, consolidating and ushering in a new generation of vintners interested in making low intervention, natural process wines. 

The Box Wine Company is a calling back to nature.  “Jessica and I love to wander and take photos of the coastal mountains and ocean,” said Wesley.  “Board meetings take place at the local surf spots.”

Wine Recommendations

2020 Black Roses North Coast Sangiovese- lush black fruit on the nose with flavors of cherry and cranberry followed up by a smooth finish.  This wine has nice acidity, balance and structure to it.

2020 Black Roses Pinot Noir- sourced from Nelson Hill Vineyard in Anderson Valley, this wine showcases dense flavors of blackberry and black cherry closing with a rounded finish.  Drink now or hold back for another 10 years.

2019 Briney Glimmer Syrah- sourced from the Broken Leg Vineyard in Anderson Valley, this wine has lush dark flavors of black cherry, pepper and a touch of spice. Drink now or hold back for another 10-15 years.

2021 Hills & Valleys Grenache Rosé– sourced from Se Soulever Vineyard in the Fountain Grove District, this wine has flavors of peaches, pears and a hint of spice. This dry Bandol inspired Rose shows nice acidity complimented by a refreshing finish. 

2020 Briney Glimmer Anderson Valley Sauvignon Blanc- Sourced from the Charles Vineyard, stone fruit and herb aromatics on the nose  followed up by  flavors of lemon and grapefruit closing out with a long finish.  

About the Author: Joe Campbell

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Located out of the Sierra Foothills of California, Joe Campbell provides color commentary as well as insight within the wine industry both from the lifestyle consumer and business segments of the industry. He can be reached via email at : joe@winebulletin.net .