Our Story

“I came to Piemonte to work one grape harvest.  That was over 20 years ago…” - Evan Byrne

Wine has fascinated me ever since my epiphany at university more than 30 years ago.  Abandoning the world of design, I worked in wine shops, tasting anything and everything that I could.  But I became restless to see it being made.  I wanted to get my hands dirty and feel the grapes under my feet.

So I worked a harvest in Australia.  And moved on to a fine wine shop in Melbourne, followed by time in a Tasmanian cellar-door.  Then I went to Italy to work a harvest, just for the experience: the plan was to go to Argentina the following year to do a harvest there.  That Italian harvest was in Piemonte, and it was 2001.  I never did get to Argentina…

There are so many grape varieties and wine regions in Piemonte.  Hand-in-hand with this diversity, the great strength of the region – not only for wine, but the cuisine in general – is its cleaving to traditions.  We enjoy the fabulous regional foods and wines of Italy because they have been refined and refined over centuries, until they are made ‘just so’.  If you want to make classic Genovese pesto, you do it in a very particular way.  No ifs, no buts.  No straying from the one true path.

But there are buts…The corollary of this approach is that the production of traditional food and, even more so, wine, has gradually been codified in law.  For wines, this has been based on geographical regions and has prescribed – and, equally importantly, proscribed – all manner of things, such as grape varieties, location of vineyards, production methods, ageing requirements and so on.  Traditions have been taken as the basis for the legislation, bringing into law the common practices of the area.

In Piemonte the common practice was to make single-variety wines, even though most producers grew more than one variety and often several.  The result of this tradition has been that wines which are a blend of different varieties are still a relative rarity here.

But (you see? - there’s one...) this does not mean that those wines are not worth making.  In the same way that making your ragù or ravioli to a precise recipe means innovation is stifled, making only those wines that your parents and their parents made has the same effect.

It could be that blending 10 different varieties together, or ageing in a solera system would make wonderful wines here.  But no one knows because no one does it.  And no one does it not because it was tried and rejected, but because no one did it before.  You don’t innovate.

So my own personal take and adventure is to try these things.  Hence Byrne Vini.

After over a decade of life happening to me while I was making other plans, I decided, in January 2020, that the time was finally right for me to pursue my dream.  It wasn’t...

Nevertheless, I persisted.

Byrne Vini was founded in July 2020.

The idea behind Byrne Vini was to seek out hidden gems as well as to make small quantities of high-quality, unique wines from Piemonte's myriad grape varieties and vineyard sites.

Who We Are

Evan Byrne

I'm the one on the left in the photo above and I have over 25 years' experience in the wine industry, having made wine in Australia and Italy, in addition to buying and selling wine, both wholesale and retail.  However, the thing that keeps me interested, keeps me coming back, is tasting and drinking.  I believe there is only one reason to make wine, and only one reason to buy it: to drink it.

I have spent nearly 20 years immersed in the wine, food and hospitality culture of Piemonte, and I would gladly share my knowledge, passion and insights with you on a day (or two...) out around the region.


Ed Bates

My interest in wine stems from a wine laden upbringing in a Francophile household.  After college a career in wines and spirits beckoned starting at as a shop assistant Oddbins and culminating as one of the buying team at Berry Bros. & Rudd in London, which is where I met Evan. 

Today, I’m still based in London, working as an independent consultant and drinks judge and educator.

© Byrne Vini.

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