Ceramist-turned-winemaker Andrew Beckham ages wine the ancient way: in huge clay amphorae he sculpts himself.
Oregon winemaker Andrew Beckham of Beckham Estate Vineyard is obsessed with making every part of his wine himself—even the vessels he uses for aging. A high school ceramics teacher by day, he transforms 800 pounds of clay—sculpted over two weeks, dried for six weeks and baked in a kiln for 40 hours—into each gigantic clay urn for his A.D. Beckham wines. He is meticulous about the research: He worked with a chemist to develop a food-safe clay blend and experimented with various shapes to induce optimal fermentation (egg-shaped pots, he learned, naturally stir wine as it heats up within). “Amphorae have been used in winemaking for thousands of years,” he says. “And everything is cyclical. We bought this property to build an art studio; now we make wine in the pots that inspired us to move here.” beckhamestatevineyard.com.