For generations, the Busch name has been synonymous with some of the most popular and successful beers in the country.
Now, one of the heirs of that family is dipping his toes in grapes — namely the wine game.
Andy Busch, the son of the late August A. Busch, Jr., and his wife Kim launched a line of wines from their Folded Hills Winery in California here in St. Louis last year and had their first wine club event in the region as well.
The couple, now rooted in California with a keen feeling of home towards St. Louis, will be in town this weekend for a series of events including tastings at the Wine Merchant, located at 7817 Forsyth Blvd in Clayton, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
“St. Louis has a very strong tie for us obviously and so even though this is a wine that’s grown and made in California, it’s very much of a St. Louis heritage and family project to us, that’s very important that we tie that in” Kim said.
Added Andy, “St. Louis is still very much our home and we’re incredibly proud and happy to be home.”
Folded Hills is located in the coastal mountains of Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley. The 600-acre estate in the Santa Ynez Valley and is a working ranch.
Andy managed Grant’s Farm from the 1980s through the 1990s but was looking for a new endeavor when the new millennium hit. In 2002, the Busch’s made their big move to Santa Barbara, looking for the perfect ranch. After looking at 50 different locations, they came upon Folded Hills, a lush, green pasture side tucked between oak trees and the natural forest, which had an all too familiar feel to it.
“We came through the gates and across the bridge and it reminded us very much of Grant’s Farm, and we knew that was the property for us,” Andy said. “We really went about to build our little Grant’s Farm West in Santa Barbara.”
In 2011, the continuous ranch came up for sale. Through extensive hours of research, the Busches found that the property had previously housed a pre-prohibition winery and vineyard on the land. Through further research from some of the best professionals around, the Busches found that the ground, climate and sunlight culminated into the perfect area to grow.
Today, Folded Hills is a fully functioning ranch with much more than just wine. The Busches grow some of their own vegetables there, house cattle, donkeys, horses, pigs chickens and even clydesdales.
As for the production of their wine, the Busches have hired Angela Osborne, a New Zealand-born winemaker, to craft their collection. The Folded Hills vineyard grows Grenache, Syrah, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Clarette Blanc grapes.
Three of the names of the wine have a connection to St. Louis and the Busch family. The Lilly Rosé, which has sold out frequently, is named after Lilly Anheuser, who was born in 1844 and married Adolphus Busch, creating the most famous brewery in the country.
“We’ve had six generations of Lilly in our family and so that’s why that wine is named Lilly,” Kim said.
The Busch’s also make a Grenache named Grant after Grant’s Farm and a red blend of Grenache and Syrah named August, after the harvest month, as well as Andy’s father and grandfather.
The winery has received a number of awards and complimentary reviews from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. Wine and Spirits Magazine named the 2016 Estate Lilly Rosé one of the best Rosés of 2017. In addition, it named Folded Hills as the top California winery to watch, and the 2015 Grant Grenache the best California Grenache and top 3 in the United States.
“We really can’t believe it,” Kim said of the awards. “This is very much a very heart project for all of us. We knew that the wine was going to be great and we knew the story was good, but the way the wines have been received from both the industry as well as just people who love wine has just blown us away. We’re so gratified by it.”
Folded Hills has sold out most of their first wines and are pouring their new wines in St. Louis first, before they arrive anywhere else in the United States.
“St. Louis is so important to us and we want to share our new life out there and our business out there with our friends and family here in St. Louis,” Kim said.