Macauley Vineyard was originally founded by Ann Macauley in 1984. After graduating from college Ann was thinking of either building a business centered around dairy products or wine and she chose the latter. The first vintage was a late harvest Sautern style Sauvignon Blanc produced by well known Napa winemaker Ric Forman. The original vineyard was just north of St. Helena near the old Grist Bale Mill. Tragically Ann passed away a few years later in a car accident while that year's current vintage was still in barrel. Enter Jeff Sowells who was helping make wine for Ann at the time. He always wanted to make a late harvest Sautern style wine and ended up purchasing the wine that was in barrel for his own label - with his first vintage (Topaz) containing a tribute to Ann on the label. Many years later, Mac (Ann's son) would hook up with Jeff after the owners of Groezinger's wine shop in Yountville recognized his last name and introduced the two vintners to each other.
Mac moved to the Napa Valley when he was a child and spent part of his childhood among the vineyards and growing up in the wine industry. A series of events would help lead Mac into the wine industry and revive his mother's label. During his teenage years he was in France and had an opportunity to taste a rare vertical tasting of wine at the famed first growth Bordeaux house, Château Lafite Rothschild. It was during this tasting that Mac realized for the first time just how special certain types of wines can be. Tasting wines dating back to 1961 from one of France's premier wineries certainly doesn't hurt in this regard! This tasting helped get him hooked on wine. Fast forward a number of years to when Mac was attending college in Colorado. Just by random chance he happened to stumble into the daughter of one of Napa's notable winemakers Robert Pecota (Mac's mother actually used their winery during the early years) and it was here that he reconnected with a number of his childhood friends from when he was living in Napa, a number of whom were actually working in the wine industry.
He jumped at the opportunity to move back to the Napa Valley in 2000. It didn't take long to enter the world of winemaking and for the "Napa allure" to kick in. He worked a harvest at a well-known Napa winery and took classes at UC Davis and at the local college; as Mac says, he also "asked a lot of questions". His long time friend and well-regarded Napa winemaker, Kirk Venge was hired. The first commercial vintage released was in 2001 and Kirk as been the winemaker since day 1. Their focus is on high end Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. As of press time they produce two Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, a vineyard designate from the famed To Kalon vineyard as well as their Napa Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from premium vineyards in the valley. Vineyard control is essential to Macauley's wines. Before they even choose a vineyard it must meet their highest quality criteria. They walk the vineyard, sample the soils and provide input on trellising and canopy management. They always try to enter long term contracts with specific vineyards, thus ensuring the consistency of fruit from year to year. When a winery conducts their harvest at another winery because they do not actually own a winery, they typically use the winemaking equipment already available to them. Despite not actually owning a physical winery Macauley has several times ordered custom tanks to be used for their wines only. All vineyard lots are fermented separately and then combined only when the final blendings take place. Native yeasts are used when possible during the fermentations and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The 2005 Zinfandel comes from several Napa Vineyards and is blended with 16% Petite Sirah. The nose is elegant. We typically reserve words such as delicious for the palate, but in this case this word is very appropriate for the bouquet. Wisps of vanilla, white chocolate and pepper spice complement cherry aromas. The palate is all about the fruit - it is rich and layered with flavors of ripe juicy blackberry and dark cherry. The initial entry of fruit is soft and remains smooth throughout with structured tannins on the finish. The 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from two premium vineyards, the Star (managed by David Abreu who is one of California's premier vineyard consultants) and the Kelham Vineyard. The nose is a chocolate mousse mixed with aromas of cherry - beautiful! The layered aromas lead to layered flavors including blackberry, black currant and licorice. The mouth feel is soft and rounded yet rich with fruit. Smokiness and a touch of spice grace the very long finish. This is an approachable wine now but has good acidity and structure to age well.
Macauley does not produce a lot of wine; typically each vintage is no more than several hundred cases. You can find their wine locally at Groezinger's in Yountville, the St. Helena Wine Center and at Dean & Deluca. You may also join their quickly growing mailing list for the latest updates and chances to purchase new releases. Visit: www.macauleyvineyard.com