Francis Mahoney, Founder of Carneros Creek Winery, Mahoney Family Vineyards and Fleur de California
Mahoney Family Vineyards and Fleur de California
Francis was captivated by the concept of terroir – the influence of soil, wind, fog, sun exposure, and rainfall on the style of wine they produced. Turning his focus towards the undiscovered “Los Carneros” region in the southern portion of Napa and Sonoma valleys, Francis felt that conditions in this wind-swept countryside were ideal for Pinot Noir to thrive. So it was here that the Mahoneys set their roots.
Rather than choosing Pinot Noir clones because of their propensity for high yields (a factor that played a major role in their lackluster quality of the varietal up until that time), Francis planted and studied clonal selections of Pinot Noir that had proven track records in European vineyards along with some selections from California that lacked only the right climate and proper vineyard management. Using his Carneros vineyards as his laboratory, Francis, along with a team from U.C. Davis, began a tedious clonal research project to better understand the intricacies of the more successful clonal selections. Over the course of that twelve-year research project, it became evident that the best Pinot Noir was not to be found within a single clonal selection. Each of the clones had unique flavor, structure, and aromatic characteristics and each had its own preference for vineyard location, pruning techniques, water tolerance, soil type, sun exposure, barrel, and bottle aging.