The past and the future of Mayacamas
At 2000-feet elevation atop Mt. Veeder, at the end of a steep gravel road, you'll find a small stone winery. This unsuspecting, enchanted property is where some of the best wines ever made in California are born. Mayacamas has operated as a winery since 1889, with a hiatus during the years of Prohibition. The original owner sold to the Taylors in the early 40s and Bob Travers purchased the winery from them in 1968 with his wife Elinor. Bob had apprenticed under Joe Heitz (Heitz Cellars) and had a background in engineering from Stanford University. With this, he set out as the new owner and head winemaker of Mayacamas Vineyards, where he spent the next 4 decades crafting legendary, uncompromising wines.
Mayacamas is named after the mountain range of the same name, which divides the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. Of more than 400 acres at the estate, only 52 are planted. Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvingon Blanc make up the bulk of the plantings on the steep slopes that overlook the valley. The vines are dry-farmed, which keeps the yields low, providing small and concentrated berries at harvest. The exquisite juice that gets pressed off these grapes goes largely untouched in the cellar. The original stone building houses the winery equipment, which hasn't been updated since Travers purchased the winery in 1968. The wines are unfined, unfiltered and are aged in decades-old, large neutral oak barrels. Quite uncommonly for California, Travers has always released his Cabernets 5 years after the vintage. The wine spends 3 of these years in wood and another 2 in bottle. Upon release, it is utterly harmonious. Bold tannins provided by the mountain fruit lends these wines almost indefinite age-ability, upward of at least 20 years.
This classic style perfected by Bob Travers has become the responsibility of the winery's new owners to maintain. In 2013, investor Charles Banks, formerly of Screaming Eagle, purchased Mayacamas. The deal closed after years of deliberation and has prompted several questions from loyal drinkers of Mayacamas wines. Will Mayacamas become the opulent wine that is Screaming Eagle? Banks assures us that no — he has every intention of keeping with the classic style that he himself loves. Husband and wife team Andy Erickson and Annie Favia (also formerly of Screaming Eagle) will manage the vineyards and winery. They've been instructed to forget what they've learned elsewhere, and focus on making wines that reflect this unique terroir. Necessary investment will go into the vineyards (some vines have been damaged or killed by Phylloxera) and the winery, to render production more precise. The 40-plus years of Bob Travers' craftsmanship together with Charles Banks' expertise and capital, should allow the legacy to live on for decades.
We're very excited to see where Mayacamas goes from here. In the meantime, we're offering 2 separate vintages of both the Cabernet and the Chardonnay.
Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon is tradtional, savoury, intensely complex, and with the tannic structure to age for decades. The cooler climate on Mount Veeder keeps the wine fresh and fragrant, with bold acidity.
Mayacamas Chardonnay has razor-edge precision. It was been likened to Montrachet in its profoundness. The wine is concentrated, textured and will continue to develop for 5-10 years. It's aged for a year in large neutral oak barrels, without malolactic fermentation. This is not typical California Chardonnay.