When former high-tech executive and equestrian Barry Waitte founded Tamber Bey Vineyards in 1999, he named it after his first two Arabian horses, Tamborina and Bayamo, affectionately known as Tamber and Bey.
Barry’s initial intention was to acquire outstanding vineyard property, maximize the quality of the grapes he grew, and then sell them to eager wine producers. He bought two vineyards: a 60-acre parcel located just east of Yountville (aptly named Deux Chevaux Vineyard) and an 11-acre vineyard at the southern end of the Oakville appellation (Tamber Bey Estate). With the help of founding winemaker Thomas Brown and viticulturist Josh Clark, Deux Chevaux Vineyard was planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux grapes, while Tamber Bey Estate Vineyard was exclusively planted to select clones of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Over the next couple of years, Barry further pursued his passion for horses and wine. Barry’s endurance racing career peaked when he won the individual national 100-mile championship and the team gold medal at the North American Endurance Championships in the same year. He also graduated from winegrower to vintner.
In the fall of 2003, the Tamber Bey label premiered with a limited production of 2001 Chardonnay, Merlot, and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Deux Chevaux Vineyard. Since then, case production has increased to 5,000 cases and nine wines, under the expertise of winemaker Mike Smith. In 2011 alone, four new Tamber Bey wines were introduced: a 100 percent Cabernet Franc; two Bordeaux-style blends; and a wine under a new label, Three Steeds Cabernet. Of the nine wines in Tamber Bey’s current portfolio, four are produced exclusively for wine club members.
In November 2010, Tamber Bey opened a new tasting room in downtown St. Helena. A majestic Arabian horse graces the storefront window, inviting passersby to come in and taste the exceptional wines at a beautiful copper-top bar, in a private tasting room, or at a table outside overlooking bustling downtown St. Helena.