Mayacamas Vineyards, perched atop Mount Veeder, has been an enduring symbol of California winemaking excellence for over a century. Its rich history, unique terroir, and commitment to tradition have solidified its place as a beloved and renowned winery.
Mayacamas Vineyards' story begins in 1889 when German immigrant JH Fisher built the winery on Mount Veeder. Unfortunately, the devastating 1906 earthquake left the winery abandoned until 1941 when it was purchased by Jack Taylor and his family. They renamed it Mayacamas, after the Native American word for the property, and initiated a program of replanting.
In 1968, Bob Travers took over and transformed Mayacamas into a powerhouse of California winemaking. Trained at Heitz Cellars and mentored by André Tchelistcheff, Travers embraced traditional winemaking methods. Fermentations were conducted in concrete tanks with native yeasts, and the wines aged in large, old wooden casks for 18 months, followed by additional time in old barrels and bottles. This approach, while unfashionable at times, resulted in wines that blossomed with age into ethereal masterpieces.
Mayacamas' exceptional quality and longevity can be attributed to its unique terroir. Nestled at elevations of 550-750 meters above sea level within the crater of an extinct volcano, the combination of altitude, complex volcanic soils, and dry farming produces grapes of extraordinary concentration and complexity. This terroir imparts a distinct character to the wines, making them a true reflection of their mountainous origin.
Rise to Fame
Mayacamas Vineyards gained international recognition in 1976 when its 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon participated in the "Judgment of Paris" wine competition. This historic event catapulted Mayacamas into the limelight as its Cabernet ranked among the top wines in the world, proving that California could produce wines of exceptional quality that could rival their French counterparts.
Today, Mayacamas remains true to its heritage and terroir. Under the stewardship of the Schottenstein family since 2013, and with winemaker Andy Erickson at the helm, the winery continues to craft wines that embrace tradition and minimal intervention. Aging predominantly in neutral oak, including large-format foudrés that have been in use since the 1920s, Mayacamas ensures that its wines remain fresh, vibrant, and pure.
The focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay remains unwavering, with these varieties thriving in the mountainous vineyards that have been cultivated for nearly 130 years. Mayacamas' commitment to its legacy and its dedication to preserving its unique style make it a beacon of California winemaking excellence, reminding us that great wines only improve with time.
In every bottle of Mayacamas wine, you taste not only the fruit of the vine but also a piece of California's winemaking history, a legacy of passion, and a commitment to crafting wines that age with grace and character. Mayacamas Vineyards is not just a winery; it's a testament to the enduring spirit of California wine.