Golf is a bet­ter game when there’s con­so­la­tion in wine

In a se­ries of ar­ti­cles about the game we love, HK Golfer has in­vited our golfer-jour­nal­ist-at-large, the Soli­taireMys­tery@hot­mail.com, to con­trib­ute his take on the game and any­thing around it.

HK Golfer - - Club House -

Sonoma or Napa is the place to be if you’re into Amer­i­can wine. It is “the most” of any­thing to do with Amer­i­can wines: the most win­ery per sur­face area; the most grape types planted; the most vol­ume pro­duced; the most ex­pen­sive wine; the most in­no­va­tion; the most eclec­tic col­lec­tion of own­ers and so on. You name it, you have it.

But do you know that Sonoma is also where one of the most exclusive pri­vate clubs of Amer­ica is found? Yes, this is where May­a­cama is lo­cated, nes­tled in the hills of north­ern Sonoma County, not far from the charm­ing town of Healds­burg; where mem­ber­ship is hard to seek, and the club boasts a golf course that is con­sis­tently ranked in the top 50 of the world - al­though few peo­ple I know have ever played on the course. The wealth and in­flu­ence of the mem­bers who be­long to this club are per­haps most ev­i­dent by the pri­vate jets that land at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Air­port. Mem­bers ar­rive from all over the coun­try (and some from other parts of the world) and dis­ap­pear onto the club grounds daily, and even more so on the week­ends. It is said that to be­come a mem­ber, one not only needs to seek nom­i­na­tion by an ex­ist­ing mem­ber, but also to sur­vive the screen­ing in­ter­views of a few oth­ers.

All this for the priv­i­lege to play on the Jack Nick­laus sig­na­ture golf course? Per­haps not. This is Sonoma County af­ter all. Where wine is the most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion in any­thing. May­a­cama cur­rently boasts a list of 35 Vint­ner mem­bers whose wines are con­sis­tently rated 92 points and higher. Yes, this is a pre-req­ui­site for con­sid­er­a­tion to be a Vint­ner mem­ber. To un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of this act is a walk down his­tory lane, and a quick les­son as to why we don’t find the top, I mean re­ally the top, qual­ity Amer­i­can wine in the open mar­ket.

The French grew vine, made wine, bot­tled, and sold them across the world long be­fore planes were in­vented. This leaves be­hind a legacy of né­go­ciants who en­sured dis­tri­bu­tion of the end prod­ucts across the globe. And thanks to this tra­di­tion, there’s en primeur and distrib­u­tors in every con­ti­nent. Ev­ery­one can very much buy the wine and the vin­tage we want as long as we’re will­ing to part with the nec­es­sary for­tunes.

Amer­ica came to the wine game later, with some ex­cep­tions. Small pro­duc­ers sell di­rectly to wine en­thu­si­asts who hap­pen to visit the win­ery. Di­rect mail­ing lists start and wine is sold straight to the end con­sumers, by­pass­ing the mid­dle­man. Wine mak­ers make more and end con­sumers pay less. Ev­ery­one wins, right? Not for the poor souls like you and me who didn’t make it on the list. We can never lay our hands on those won­der­fully fer­mented grapes, pam­pered in bou­tique winer­ies in lim­ited quan­ti­ties and sold even be­fore they are bot­tled. Yes, oc­ca­sion­ally some en­tre­pre­neur­ial col­lec­tors who fa­vor cash sell them on the open mar­ket, but prove­nance, my friend, is a high price to pay.

I still re­mem­ber my first sight­ing of a Wren Hop in a wine store in NYC. First, I was very much taken by the book cover de­sign of its la­bel; the jux­ta­po­si­tion of a mus­cu­lar style wine in a mu­seum art piece like bot­tle. Then my ra­tio­nal left brain took over. Too good to be true…? To buy or not to buy…? How did this lim­ited pro­duc­tion Pinot-for-Cab-lover wine get here…? Here in my hand lies a la­bel where only a few thou­sand bot­tles have ever been pro­duced.

Back to earth, and back to May­a­cama. Mem­bers, I was told, have pri­vate ac­cess to the wines from the 35 Vint­ner mem­bers. A pri­vate al­lo­ca­tion and auc­tion­ing sys­tem is in place to keep ev­ery­one happy. I know it’s a dif­fer­ent world when you have money. Not to be a sour grape, but this is too much for me to han­dle and too lit­tle for me to drink. I protest. What ex­actly are we miss­ing? Be­sides Wren Hop which I have men­tioned ear­lier, let me in­tro­duce you to three other known Vint­ner mem­bers of May­a­cama.

Vine­yard 7&8 - af­ter a mea­sured and pa­tient search for a vine­yard property in Napa Val­ley, the St­ef­fens Fam­ily ended their quest when they ac­quired a forty-acre property atop Spring Moun­tain. Planted in the early 1980’s to eight acres of each Caber­net Sauvi­gnon and Chardon­nay, the property met the fam­ily’s strin­gent re­quire­ments to sus­tain­ably grow pre­mium grapes al­low­ing them to craft wines

with a true sense of place. Founded in 1999 and named af­ter pro­pri­etor Launny St­ef­fens’ life and back­ground in the world of fi­nance with a theme en­com­passed by nu­mer­ics, and a keen in­ter­est in nu­merol­ogy - “seven” be­ing a num­ber of luck in western cul­ture, while “eight” fol­lows the mean­ings of pros­per­ity and hap­pi­ness in east­ern cul­ture - Vine­yard 7&8 is the cul­mi­na­tion of the fam­ily’s pur­suit for pro­duc­ing fine wines in­clud­ing Caber­net Sauvi­gnon and Chardon­nay.

Fisher Vine­yards - since 1973, Fisher Vine­yards has been blessed with out­stand­ing es­tate vine­yards in Napa Val­ley and Sonoma County. To­day, Fisher Vine­yards stands alone as the long­est es­tab­lished win­ery to pro­duce site spe­cific wines from es­tate vine­yards in both re­gions. Blessed by sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions over five decades from sev­eral of Cal­i­for­nia’s great­est wine tal­ents (in­clud­ing Paul Hobbs, Mia Klein, David Abreu, Aaron Pott and Adam Goodrich), Fisher Vine­yards now re­leases thir­teen small­pro­duc­tion bot­tlings each year. Hav­ing pro­duced the first near-per­fect Caber­net Sauvi­gnon from Sonoma (99 points from Robert Parker), the fam­ily re­mains fo­cused on mak­ing time­less, world class wines.

TOR Wines is a small fam­ily owned win­ery that spe­cial­izes in Napa Val­ley Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, Syrah, and Chardon­nay. Tor Ken­ward, a Napa Val­ley Vint­ner for over three decades, is cham­pion of sin­gle vine­yard wines. “Af­ter mak­ing wines here for over thirty years I believe the vine­yard is the real wine­maker. My job is to nur­ture and stay out of the way of great­ness,” ob­serves Tor pre­vi­ously. Many in the wine world would as­so­ciate him as a god­fa­ther of the trade in Napa. In his most re­cent tast­ing with Robert Parker, TOR re­ceived three po­ten­tial 100 point wines, and was fea­tured re­cently on the cover of the Wine Spec­ta­tor. I bet you didn’t know that, fel­low oenophile.

Top wines of the Amer­ica and pos­si­bly of the world; yet, I’ll bet, not many of you read­ers have tried them all. Leave alone try­ing it side by side – in one club. May­a­cama mem­bers have. I love golf and I ap­pre­ci­ate a good wine. May­a­cama seems to have a mar­riage of the two. So please – in­vite me. Any of you elu­sive, se­cre­tive May­a­cama mem­bers out there who hap­pen to read this ar­ti­cle, please take me with you on your next trip to the club. I’ll carry your bags if you don’t let me play, and take in the course visu­ally. You don’t have to buy me din­ner pre­pared by the famed chef of the club­house restau­rant, but I will seek con­so­la­tion sip­ping the wine af­ter the game. Dear Santa, all I want for Christ­mas is a May­a­cama mem­ber­ship. Re­ally.

View of May­a­cama

Spy cam of a mem­ber’s wine cel­lar at the club.

Wren Hop wine - a piece of art in­side and out.

Yet an­other exclusive din­ing spot for mem­bers at the club.

The 100 RP pts TOR Wines that I’ve yet to try.

Famed Fisher Vine­yards Vin­tages. Pic­ture by a friend.

Vine­yard 7&8 Caber­net Sauvi­gnon. Beauty.

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