Maroon Wines was founded by Paul Maroon (died in late 2019) with his inaugural vintage dating from 2008. Following Paul’s passing, his wife Renée sold the business in 2022 to India born but Florida based Jugal Taneja and his family. They kept the name of the wine brand but changed the name of the estate to Manju in honor of Jugal’s wife. Jugal immigrated to the U.S. in 1972 from New Delhi with a degree in Mining & Petroleum and later earned a M.S. Mechanical Engineering from NYU and MBA from Rutgers. He co-founded Kaligia Biosciences in 2015, a healthcare technology company. In 2017 following the passing of his father he wrote a book titled, Made by Father. And in 2018 the Taneja family made a sizable donation to what is now AdventHealth Hospital to fund a major expansion. The Taneja Center for Surgery is named in their honor.
Paul grew up in Pennsylvania (Lebanese heritage) where he helped his father with their family’s produce business. His first introduction to wine was helping his uncle make wine in Pennsylvania. After earning a college degree on the east coast, he came to California for his MBA. After graduating he started selling medical supplies including pacemakers. He worked very closely with hospitals and doctors and ultimately started his own company – specializing in new types of medical devices.
This was a successful business; looking to return to his agricultural roots he moved up from the San Jose Bay Area to Napa Valley. Simultaneously he purchased property just north of the city of Napa in what is now the Coombsville appellation and three hundred acres on the backside of Howell Mountain in Pope Valley. That sizable property was sold to the Michael Mondavi Family and is now owned by Plumpjack.
Paul became friends with Chris Corley, winemaker at Monticello Winery and also Crauford Family wines. The seeds of the Maroon label began with Crauford Wine Company (their first vintage was in 2000). Paul sold them grapes from his property and ultimately bought them out when they wanted to retire. Chris has crafted every vintage of Maroon.
For ten years Paul had a lucrative contract with Joseph Phelps to sell them the Cabernet Sauvignon from his Coombsville vineyard. These grapes were used in their Insignia blend. Before the contract ended, Paul made under two barrels of wine for himself and realized the quality of grapes his vineyard could achieve as a single varietal, single vineyard wine. The contract was not renewed and as a result, his first commercial vintage of Maroon Wines came two years later in 2008. While Maroon uses fruit from their estate vineyard, for many years they selectively sold grapes to other producers including to Napastak, a retail store in downtown Napa who Maroon Vineyard designated one of their bottlings. As of the 2024 harvest, all grapes on the property are being using for Maroon wines.
The focus of Maroon is primarily on single varietal, single vineyard wines. Chris’s philosophy is to introduce as little wine making manipulation as possible from the vineyard to the bottle. Along with their “estate” vineyard Maroon sources from a variety of premium vineyards in the valley including from Monticello in the Oak Knoll District.
Our first visit to the property was the day after Coombsville became the most recent sub appellation within Napa Valley in late 2011; it was nice to no longer have to say the “soon to be Coombsville appellation”. Paul was one of the most personable and down to earth vintners we met with and was always happy to sit down and have a glass of wine with who ever came to his property and share conversation about food, wine and travel among other topics. He is sorely missed by those who had the privilege to get to know him.
The views from the estate are fairly unique to Napa Valley; from their hillside location there is a visual straight line of site all the way up valley to Mt. St. Helena anchoring the northern end. While not directly affected by the terrible fires in October of 2017, Paul remembers looking east and seeing all the flames burning the hillsides of Atlas Peak and below all the way down to the Silverado Country Club.
The Maroon property is 35 acres of which approximately 20 acres are planted to vine – entirely to Cabernet Sauvignon. The area boasts prime terroir for vines; nearby neighbors include Covert Estate, Shadybrook Estate, Meteor Vineyard and Sodaro Estate. There is a reason vines will never be planted on one side of their property; one of their neighbors is the Napa Country Club. And for those interested, hole number 9 in the neighboring golf course is the closest hole to Manju Estate.
A common thread throughout all the Maroon wines is a freshness resulting from a brightness of acidity. These are balanced bottlings which are crafted to be approachable in their youth but also have the characteristics to age for many years with the proper cellaring. And Maroon holds their wines back longer than most wineries – with current release red wines often 4 to 5 years post vintage.
The 2020 Maroon Reserve Chardonnay is from the Monticello Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District. This wine is medium golden in color. One can immediately tell from the aromatics alone that this is not an overly oaky or buttery ‘California styled’ Chardonnay. It offers scents of honeysuckle, melon, dried hay, a light citrus blossom and as it evolves in the glass it reveals stone fruited aromas including of peach, nectarine along with pear. The focus on the palate is on its fruit characteristics offering a riper expression of this variety with flavors of nectarine, white peach, mango and papaya. Its texture is creamy and rounded. The finish is long. This wine was aged 50% in stainless steel tanks and 50% in neutral oak barrels.
The 2009 Maroon Chardonnay is from the Oak Knoll district in Napa Valley (150 cases). Only 30% of this wine went through malolactic fermentation with; Maroon’s General Manager at the time, Kelly Darter told us this is, “everything we love about Chardonnay”. It is not over oaked and not too buttery either. The bouquet is somewhat tropical along with aromas of citrus blossom. The wine has a lean entry but gains layers of flavor quickly by mid palate through to the finish. It is a lively wine with a long and complete finish lingering with a whisper of vanilla.
The 2022 Maroon Rosé of Pinot Noir, Oak Knoll District is light salmon/copper in color; This wine was fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel (for 6 months). The aromas offer mineralities, a citrus zest, apple and an appealing note of tarragon. It smells fresh. This bright and balanced bottling sports plenty of flavor including of mandarin and raspberry. Its acidity is energetic and anchors a bright finish.
The 2019 Maroon Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is deep ruby in the glass and nearly opaque. This wine smells savory. It is dark fruited on the bouquet with aromas of bramble, dried herbs and tobacco spice. It smells fresh, bright and energetic. It is juicy on palate with flavors of blackberry, plum, red currant, cranberry and cherry. Some of the fruit notes on the bouquet are also echoed on the palate especially on the finish. Intense flavors. Layered. Lively finish. The broadly distributed grainy, still tightly woven & grippy tannins show more on the front of the palate than the back. A red fruited astringency lingers on the finish. It is savory and dusty with a note of lingering dried tobacco leaf. The tannins drop off and the fruit continues for some time on the very youthful finish. This wine has loads of life ahead of it. Nicely done.
The 2018 Maroon Estate Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in 80% new French oak barrels – experiencing significantly more new barrels than the Reserve bottling. Along with the Reserve, this Special Reserve is made from grapes from both the older and newer blocks on the property. This wine is deep ruby in color; the bouquet offers a light jalapeno note which opens to fruit aromas as the wine breathes including of cherry, bramble and darker spices. One wouldn’t be incorrect in calling its aromatic attributes as savory. The palate is mouth watering with flavors of red plum and red cherry, dried herbs and sage. The tannins are grainy and granular and continue to persist past the fruit on the long finish.
The 2018 Maroon Merlot was sourced from the Nichelini Vineyard in Chiles Valley. Incidentally Nichelini Winery is the oldest continuously same family owned and operated winery in Napa Valley having been founded in 1890. This wine is medium ruby in color; the bouquet is bright and fresh with herbal notes including shishito and jalapeno peppers, bay leaf and red plum. The palate is red fruited including of cherry, cranberry and currant. Some of the herbal notes also show on the palate. The tannins linger with a moderate grip but are well integrated into the bright and tart finish. We immediately thought of pairing this wine with BBQ pork chops.
The 2018 Maroon Zinfandel Nichelini Vineyard Chiles Valley is medium to deep ruby in color; simply stated, this wine smells pretty. It is sweetly fruited but nowhere near crossing the threshold of being over ripe or opulent. It offers an attractive union of both fruit and baking spices including raspberry, licorice, ripe strawberry, clove and nutmeg. This is no jammy Zinfandel; the palate is bright and fresh with flavors of red cherry, currant and red plum. The grainy textured tannins integrate nicely on the lively and energetic finish. Its mouthwatering, juicy and bright and lingers with a light dusty character. We would love to revisit this bottling in another 5 years. For reference, we tasted 5 years post vintage. This wine was aged in 25% new Hungarian oak barrels with the remainder being neutral.
The 2009 Maroon Vineyard 100% Cabernet Sauvignon reveals an elegant bouquet with an inviting smokiness, black licorice, blackberry, toasted oak – which becomes a bit more floral as it opens. It is obvious right away that this wine has great mouthwatering acidity (all natural). This wine is already really balanced for being so young.
Some of their bottlings are often only made available to their wine club. Case in point is a their unique by Napa standard wine the 2007 100% varietal Petit Verdot. Very few producers in the valley make a 100% Petit Verdot from this varietal – preferring instead to use it as a blending grape. This wine was originally going to be used in a blend, but it showed so well by itself it was bottled as a standalone varietal. It should also be mentioned that Petit Verdot is always among the highest priced grapes by tonnage sold in the Napa Valley. The 2007 Maroon Petit Verdot is a dark inky black wine in the glass. It shows a “pretty” aromatic bouquet with ripe plum, blackberry and truffle. The palate offers a richness of fruit that is often so characteristic of this varietal. Layers of chewy ripe black fruit ripple through the palate from start to the end. The firm structured tannins are slightly course and anchor a deliciously long finish.
The 2013 Maroon Malbec is very ripe on the bouquet, but this ripeness does not necessarily carry through to the palate. This wine is fairly balanced for being so young at the time of our tasting. 2013 was also the year they introduced a Merlot for the first time.
In 2023 Maroon Wines entered a philanthropic partnership with the non profit Wine to Water. Their inaugural bottling, the Maroon Wines 2019 Wine to Water Merlot raised $15 from the sale of each bottle to support access to clean drinking water in communities in Nepal, the Amazon region, East Africa and Dominican Republic.
Maroon Wines is a member of the Coombsville Vintners and Growers association. This organization hosts a once a year consumer tasting for wines from its members every May. While Maroon Wines is not open to the public, this event is a great way to taste some of their current release wines. It is typically held at the Napa Valley Country Club off of Hagen Road in Coombsville or at Copia in downtown Napa.
Total current production hovers around 2,000 cases per year although they have been as high as 10,000 cases in the past. While they are selectively distributed in Texas, Georgia and New York as well as restaurants in San Francisco, Maroon also sells direct. They offer a wine club which features a diversity of wines including several wine club exclusive extremely limited production bottlings.
Maroon wines also produces private labeled wines or wines for corporate gift packages.
The property is closed to the public for tastings but serious wine enthusiasts can inquire about a vineyard tour followed by a tasting at their neighbor – the Napa Valley Country Club. For more information, to purchase wine and or to join one of three levels of membership in their wine club (3, 6 or 12 bottles shipped four times per year), visit: www.maroonwines.com