Creating a winery...Grapes First

The Mayo Family Winery estate is located in Bennett Valley at the foot of Sonoma Mountain, two miles east of the Sonoma Valley village of Glen Ellen.The property was purchased by Henry and Diane Mayo in 1984. After building their home, the idea of planting vineyards was a consistent thought. However, it wasn't until 1990, after considerable research and discussions with longtime local growers, that Henry planted Laurel Hill Vineyard, which marked the beginning of the Mayo Family Winery.

From the beginning, Henry wanted not simply to plant that varietal which he enjoyed drinking, but the varietal which would be best suited to the land. Everyone told him the combination of soil, exposure and climate demanded Chardonnay. Hence, Laurel Hill Vineyard became seven acres of Chardonnay.

In 1994, the first significant harvest of Laurel Hill Chardonnay occurred, and resulted in the first bottled wine from Mayo Family Winery. The 1994 vintageand the subsequent three vintages would be made in a converted barn on the property.

Over the next four years, the Mayo Family Winery underwent a number of changes. The plan had always been to increase production by adding other varietals to the "Estate" and "Barrel Select" Chardonnays produced from the Laurel Hill Vineyard. Though grape sources were available to increase production, a clear decision was made to work toward producing wines from areas best suited to produce certain varietals. As a result the next four years were largely spent seeking out grape sources of such character.

By 1998, the Mayo Family Winery had reached its goal. The opportunity to purchase the "Ricci Vineyard" presented itself in 1997. Believing the Russian River Valley was the source of some of Sonoma County's finest Zinfandel, the vineyard was purchased. The 10-acre vineyard located on Limerick Lane just south of Healdsburg, was planted to Zinfandel in 1960. The head pruned, old-clone vines produce intense, richly flavored grapes. The first Mayo Family Winery estate Zinfandel from the Ricci vineyard was produced in 1998.

Also in 1998, the Mayo Family had concluded a number of contracts with growers throughout the county, all based on the idea that Mayo Family wines should represent the perfect match of varietal and terroir. Pinot Noir from the Sangiacomo's Carneros Vineyard had become a staple of the Mayo line. Cabernet Sauvignon from Peter Haywood's Los Chamizal Vineyard on the base of the Mayacamas Mountain was added to the line up. And Merlot from the northern Sonoma Valley was finally included in the production from the Mayo Family Winery.

It was also in 1998 that production was moved out of the converted barn into anew, state-of-the-art winery built on the Mayo Family estate. The new winery allowed for a number of changes in production to increase quality. The larger barrel room allowed for a more stratigic barrel aging regime.

Today, Henry Mayo continues to be intimately involved in farming the Mayo Family vineyards in Sonoma Valley and the Russian River Valley. Jeff Mayo, Henry and Diane's son, runs day to day operations and overseas winemaking. Chris Stanton is the winemaker.

Mayo Family Winery / 9200 Sonoma Highway / Kenwood, CA 95452 / 707-833-3300

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