Vineyards is a wine estate located in the Mayacamas Mountains which divide the
Napa and Sonoma Valleys. The old stone winery is perched on the edge of a dormant
volcano crater, near the top of Mt. Veeder. Fifty two acres of vineyards are planted
on mountain sides ranging from 1,800 to 2,400 feet above sea level. Deer, eagles,
coyotes and an occasional bear still inhabit this rugged terrain. For many centuries,
the land at Mayacamas was inhabited by the Wappo Indians, stone age hunters and
gatherers. Spear points and stone implements from their civilization are still
occasionally recovered from the vineyards. The first white settlers came to Mayacamas
in the 1860's. They were sheepherders who built the still existing barn. Little
is known of their rugged existence.
The winery was built in 1889 by John Henry Fisher, a German immigrant, who first
worked as a sword engraver in Philadelphia and then became a pickle merchant in
San Francisco. The winery was also used by his family as a summer home and as
a ranch to raise and care for the horses he used to deliver pickles to his clients
in San Francisco. He sold his wine by the barrel. The barrels were loaded onto
horse drawn wagons, driven fifteen miles to the Napa River, and then transferred
to ferry boats which took the wine to San Francisco where it was bottled and sold.
Soon after the turn of the century, the Fishers declared bankruptcy. The winery
officially fell into disuse, although bootleggers are said to have made wine in
the old stone cellar. During the late 1920's and 1930's the Henry Brandlin family,
some of whom still live in the area, owned the property. Then in 1941 Jack and
Mary Taylor bought the land. They restored the winery, turned the old stone distillery
into their home, and chose to name the restored estate Mayacamas Vineyards.
In 1968, the winery was purchased by its present owners, Robert and Elinor Travers.
Under their direction, aging facilities have been enlarged, neighboring land has
been purchased, and vineyard clearing, planting and replanting are an ongoing
process. In addition to Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, small blocks
of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are grown.