The Story of Mahoney Vineyards
Francis & Kathy Mahoney
In the early 70s, my wife Kathy and I set out on a journey that has
now spanned forty years in the Napa Valley. Our youthful combined
passions for each other and wine drove us to follow our dreams. We
moved north from San Francisco to become grape farmers and to eventually
open a modern winery. Due to our love of Burgundies, the southern
end of Napa was ideal, and in many ways the Carneros chose us. The
soil, microclimate, and untapped potential of the land were perfect
for what we had in mind; growing incredible Pinot Noir.
Kathy and I have worked extensively over the years researching Pinot Noir Clones with UC Davis and comparing notes with growers throughout Napa and Sonoma in pursuit of great appellation specific wines. Our research in the vineyards continues to this day, as we reflect on how our home, our lives, our dreams, and our passions are all entrenched in the soils of the Carneros. Kathy and I invite you to join us in toasting 40 years of passion, family, friends, farming, and our never ending pursuit to grow world-class wines.
Francis & Kathy Mahoney
Winemaker Ken Foster is active and full of energy in the cellar and
he is enthusiastically involved in every step of the winemaking process
from vineyard to bottle. Ken utilizes small open top fermentations,
neutral oak barrels, sur lie aging, and his own hands-on approach
in carefully crafting the Mahoney Vineyards and Fleur de California
In the Mahoney Ranch and Las Brisas Vineyards, we hold 17 specific clones of Pinot Noir that Ken closely monitors throughout the growing season. During harvest separate clonal blocks of fruit are hand-picked and fermented individually to retain their individual qualities, or co-fermented with specific clones to combine their characteristics into a controlled field blend and fermentation.
This approach affords Ken a profusion of options when crafting final blends for all of our wines. In most vintages he has over 30 lots of differing Pinot Noirs to choose from in the blending process. Ken’s keen palate, three decades of winemaking experience, and over a decade of experience working with Mahoney Vineyards estate fruit have combined to produce something very unique and special at Mahoney Vineyards. Our world-class wines express the terroir of our vineyards and are a testament to the artisanal and careful approach Ken Foster takes to winemaking.
over 40 years of wine production experience in the Carneros, we are
continuing to expand our vineyards' potential. Decades of clonal exploration
and experimentation have given us a breadth of experience that few
can match. But we haven't rested on our laurels! We continue to micro-manage
our vineyards: trying out new varietals, and testing different rootstocks.
We believe that the best wines are the result of a great deal of foresight
in the vineyards.
Most of our Pinot Noir clones are vinifed in small, distinct lots, while some are field blended in accordance with our past expereinces. Our wine cellar often contains 30 or more distinct Pinot lots well into the vintage's cellar life. By keeping the lots separate, our winemaking team can make the crucial blending decisions by sampling wines that have developed a bit more of their ultimate characteristics.
In the Mahoney Vineyards and Fleur wines, you will find a common theme: drinkability. All of our wines are crafted to be enhance the foods they are paired with, while steering clear of a heavy oak presence and high alcohol levels. These wines are reminiscent of what you will find on the tables of European households.
1972, when the Mahoneys broke ground on the first new winery to be
built in the Carneros region since prohibition, their goal was clear
- to create Pinot Noir that could stand up to the Burgundies Francis
has fallen in love with in his European travels. Their first winery,
Carneros Creek Winery, helped the region acquire its appellation status
in 1983. Surrounding the winery, their original clonal plot garnered
much praise and yielded a trove of winemaking expereince used to plant
the Mahoney's future vineyard sites - the Mahoney Ranch (purchased
in 1986) and the Las Brisas Vineyard (purchased in 1996).
In 2002, Francis and Kathy sold their beloved winery and the original clonal plot in hopes of enjoying the peace and quite that an early retirement would offer. Their retirement was shortlived at best! Both Francis and Kathy realized that retirement was better left for those whose hearts weren't in their work and so it was that they reinvented themselves at Mahoney Vineyards.
With a staff that has worked alongside the Mahoneys for multiple decades on average, the Mahoneys continue to expand the possibilities of their beloved Carneros region.
Our Las Brisas Vineyard is named after the winds that drive morning fog from our vineyards and usher in cooling airflow in the late afternoon. Las Brisas is our workhorse vineyard, with 91 acres planted to 15 clones of Pinot Noir, Vermentino, Sangiovese, Syrah, Montepulciano, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, and Albariño. The unique Carneros soil structure provides us with great wines that showcase the remarkable terroir of the Las Brisasvineyard.
Mahoney Ranch Vineyard
The Mahoney Ranch Vineyard is located behind the Mahoney Family home. The 45 acres of vineyard were specifically selected to focus on 16 different clones of Pinot Noir and 2 clones of Chardonnay which are located in our Gavin Vineyard block. The ridgeline vines are planted running east to west catching plenty of sunshine and the elevation of the hillside allows cooler temperatures to regulate ripening. The connection between the soils, clones, and geography provide us with quality fruit to consistently work with. Mahoney Ranch Vineyard is our backyard, it is the foreground to our every sunrise, and in the evening a reflection of our life’s work.
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