Alli and Bertus van Zyl are longtime friends of Bon Ton Studio. Similarly to Bon Ton Studio owner Erika and her husband Ross, Alli and Bertus met in the summer of 2010 when Bertus was a Harvest Intern in Napa, and as they say, the rest was history. They spent years pondering what it would be like to have their own label one day which led them to start Belong Wine Co. Read on for Alli's insights on what makes Belong so special!
I am so excited to chat with you curbside. Can you share how (and why) you launched Belong Wine Co.?
With just one ton of fruit after many years of dreaming, we launched Belong Wine Co. in 2017. Both being in the wine industry for over 10 years, Bertus and I always knew we wanted to create something that we handcrafted together from the ground up. The root of Belong is to celebrate the things that we cherish - love, adventure, and a sense of exploration. Our wines represent our relationship to a uniquely special varietal, Mourvèdre. We shared a bottle on our first date, and honeymooned in Provence where we sipped beautiful bottles of rose at sunset every night. Our two wines are a red and a rose, both of which lead with Mourvèdre. Belong as a brand is influenced by our personal love story and our love of the outdoors. We hope it inspires people to go out and do what they are most passionate about, always with a bottle of wine in tow!
As wine people and fans of cooking, what are your favorite food pairings for your beautiful wines?
We like to keep it simple in the summertime — we utilize the grill and the garden as much as possible! Now that it is stone fruit season we love to make grilled Peach and Burrata salad, which pairs perfectly with our rose. We also like to put a slight chill on our Mourvedre and pair it with beer-can chicken and grilled corn with chipotle honey butter.
What do you find most rewarding about the wine industry and your work for 1% for the Planet + Climate Neutral?
The wine industry is unique in that it is one big helpful family and community. Our name 'Belong Wine Co.' was inspired by our wedding song, (Lumineers “Ho Hey”) but also represents the sense of belonging we have felt within the industry and how grateful we are for the support people have shown us along the way. We are very passionate about making Belong Wine Co. a company for good, which inspired us to become members of 1% for the Planet and Climate Neutral. We are excited to continue our efforts to "leave it better than we found it" and with every purchase of our wine we are able to give back to environmental nonprofits. We hope to inspire other wine brands to do the same.
If you could sneak off for a (masked) weekend adventure where would you go?
Desolation Wilderness near South Tahoe has become one of our favorite getaways. It is located in El Dorado County (where our vineyards are) and there are endless trails and alpine lakes to explore. Getting off the grid and spending a night under the stars always helps us recharge.
What’s next for Belong Wine Co.?
We are spending a lot of our time in the vineyards right now, gearing up for our 2020 Harvest which will likely start at the end of this month. It is definitely our favorite time of the year! All of the vineyards we work with are up in the foothills of El Dorado County, about three hours from where we live in Napa, so we spend a lot of time on the road listening to great music and planning for Belong’s future. We are always looking to grow and challenge ourselves and are so excited for what’s to come.
A vacation!For more on Belong Wine Co. you can get your hands on their delicious wines here, follow their journey on Instagram (@belongwineco) or listen to them on The Cru Podcast. You can also meet them in real life as they are popping up at Bon Ton Studio (very soon!) and pouring at the Barndiva wine event in Healdsburg on November 1, 2020.