MacPhail Family Wines
‘Winery of the Year’ Honors from Wine Country Live
With just one stop you can discover why Sonoma’s long time “Wine Guy” decided that MacPhail Family wines topped his awards list for 2014. Tom Simoneau, the colorful local broadcaster whose syndicated radio show topped the airwaves for nearly two decades, just named MacPhail his “Winery of the Year” for 2014 and added one more emphatic bit of wine emphasis: The 2012 MacPhail Pratt Vineyard Pinot Noir was named the “Wine of the Year”.
The MacPhail Tasting Lounge@The Barlow is a Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) lover’s dream. The Barlow, a sophisticated and a little sassy urban destination – think Oxbox or Ferry Market light – in Sebastopol brings together winemakers, artists and artisans alongside exciting restaurants like Zazu and Vignette. And MacPhail.
The Tasting Lounge (so called because it’s so much more inviting than a tasting room) is the perfect place to absorb all things MacPhail. Winemaker and founder James MacPhail has an absolute passion for limited-release, vineyard-designate Pinot Noir, and you’ll find an incredible array of Pinots that allow you to explore the varietal, comparing vineyards from Mendocino’s Anderson Valley with notable wines from the Sonoma Coast. There are special projects from vineyards where winemaker James got to play a bit – from Oregon or the Sta. Rita Hills down Santa Barbara way, for example. You won’t find many vintages and wines in the general market, most MacPhail wines are sold directly to consumers who eagerly join the mailing list and wait to see what wonders will unfold in the annual spring and fall release periods.
You can opt for a current release tasting of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, or delve a bit deeper into library tastings, single vineyard tastings or a unique soil tasting which is staged right next to a soil wall constructed from soil pits dug into four MacPhail vineyards.
Pair your tasting with artisan cheeses from local cheese-mongers, and don’t be surprised to find offerings from nearby restaurants offered as simple tastes. You can also relax and purchase a glass of wine and hang out a while, which you’ll want to do in a lounge designed from repurposed, reclaimed or recycled materials crafted by environmental artist Richard Von Saal.
When James MacPhail was a youngster, he and his sister played in a little red wagon and when he founded his winery the lure of family and warm, lasting, loving feelings led to his use of the wagon for his label, filled with grapes.
Now, the Tasting Lounge features one of the more unique Wine Country attractions – a Von Saal signature artwork, 40 feet tall, stretching from the ceiling to the floor at the end of the tasting bar, stop in your tracks and marvel at a tower of crushed red wagons, meant by artist Von Saal to represent grapes being crushed and converted and poured as wine into a glass.
Tables are recycled oak staves, the bar, a fallen tree. An oil drum chandelier has, with tongue firmly in cheek, a bunch of grapes hanging down as a light. Really, it’s something to see. During warmer weather the Tasting Lounge doors roll up, creating an indoor/outdoor space all the more welcoming and yes, the room is dog friendly. Zuni, the MacPhail’s Burnese Mountain Dog, can often be found lounging around the room.
MacPhail Family Wines
James MacPhail traveled the world and started his career in hospitality, working as a hotel manager before realizing that his real passion was for creating wines to share with friends and family. He apprenticed with notable Sonoma winemakers Merry Edwards, Gary Farrell and Greg LaFollette, earning the grape-stained fingers that show when a winemaker is truly hands on.
Robert Parker, in his year end Sonoma Report 2014, said the MacPhail wines showed “impeccable craftsmanship” and Pinot Noirs that are “stunning” and he’s not alone: every MacPhail wine has received top scores from major reviewers at every major wine publication.
But scores are besides the point for wines like these, which is the fun of visiting and discovering the nuances between appellations and vineyards, the variations of vintages (you can dig into library wines here, something not always accessible). Many of the vineyards are within just a few miles of the tasting room, and you can continue your exploration by driving through Sonoma to see first hand where the grapes come from.
New at the Tasting Lounge is the Mardikian Estate Pinot Noir, from a vineyard developed by James MacPhail and James Pratt, quite literally from the ground up. In fact, a large mural on the western wall illustrates just how close the vineyard is to the influences of the Pacific Ocean, with maritime fog wafting through the vines each and every day in season.
This first release, offered for the first time during the holidays, is the culmination of everything James dreamed of when thinking about the perfect vineyard. A complex mélange of clones, tight spacing, the unique Gold Ridge soils found in West Sonoma County, this is truly the definition of a dream come true.
It’s a dream you can share by visiting the MacPhail Tasting Lounge@The Barlow in Sebastopol. Reserve online at www.macphailwine.com or drop by during the winter months when things are a bit more laid back.
Crafted by nature. Nurtured by hand.