1889 win­ery in­tact, but tast­ing room lost

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - WINE COUNTRY FIRES - By Es­ther Mob­ley

The Nuns Fire reached May­a­ca­mas Vine­yards, one of Napa’s most iconic wine es­tates, near the top of Mount Veeder, on Wed­nes­day.

But while one of the prop­erty’s his­toric build­ings burned to the ground, the win­ery it­self — a stone build­ing con­structed in 1889 — re­mains in­tact.

The burned struc­ture, May­a­ca­mas es­tate man­ager Jimmy Hayes con­firmed, was a build­ing they call “the res­i­dence.” It op­er­ates as a hos­pi­tal­ity cen­ter for the win­ery (though May­a­ca­mas is gen­er­ally not open to the pub­lic for tast­ings). “If you imag­ine orig­i­nally there was this free­stand­ing stone dis­tillery build­ing, and on two oc­ca­sions it was ex­panded upon to be­come a larger res­i­dence,” Hayes said. “That build­ing was com­pletely de­stroyed.”

Hayes had not yet been to the prop­erty when in­ter­viewed on Thurs­day morn­ing but con­firmed the ex­tent of the dam­age af­ter see­ing pic­tures taken by a Chron­i­cle pho­tog­ra­pher on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Although the res­i­dence held the per­sonal wine and cigar col­lec­tions of the Schot­ten­stein fam­ily, which owns May­a­ca­mas, it did not hold much of the May­a­ca­mas wine li­brary. Most of the old­est bot­tles still in the win­ery’s pos­ses­sion — Zin­fan­dels dat­ing back to the 1940s, Chardon­nay to the 1950s, Caber­nets to the 1960s — are kept in an off-site ware­house, said Hayes.

“We started har­vest pretty early this year,” Hayes said, “so ev­ery­thing was picked.” Some of the es­tate’s Caber­nets had been pressed and put to bar­rel al­ready; oth­ers were still in var­i­ous stages of fer­men­ta­tion. “We’re some­where in the mid­dle of press­ings and mac­er­a­tion,” he said.

Those wines, and the past few vin­tages of May­a­ca­mas that are still ag­ing in bar­rel or bot­tle be­fore be­ing re­leased to cus­tomers, look to be safe.

“It is kind of mirac­u­lous what hap­pened up there,” Hayes said. “To see those pic­tures is re­ally un­be­liev­able.” He ex­pects that wine­maker Andy Erick­son, viti­cul­tur­ist Phil Co­turri and oth­ers should be able to reach the prop­erty by Fri­day.

May­a­ca­mas has long been one of Napa Val­ley’s most rec­og­niz­able names. Wine­maker Bob Travers, who bought the win­ery in 1968, de­fined the early mod­ern era of Napa Val­ley wine and made the May­a­ca­mas wines among the world’s most sought-af­ter. In 2013, he sold the win­ery to the Schot­ten­steins and Charles Banks, who is also a founder of win­ery in­vest­ment firm Ter­roir Cap­i­tal. Af­ter Banks was con­victed ear­lier this year of de­fraud­ing NBA player Tim Dun­can, a fi­nan­cial ad­visee, and sen­tenced to four years in fed­eral prison, the Schot­ten­steins as­sumed full own­er­ship of May­a­ca­mas in Septem­ber.

The Schot­ten­steins are based in Ohio, but Hayes said they were on their way to Napa Val­ley.

“See­ing th­ese pic­tures, I feel re­ally hope­ful about the wine­mak­ing,” Hayes said. “We were scared that we’d lose a cou­ple years of in­ven­tory up there.”

Es­ther Mob­ley is The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle’s wine, beer and spir­its writer. Email: emob­ley@sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @Es­ther_­mob­ley

Peter DaSilva / Spe­cial to The Chron­i­cle

The burned re­mains of May­a­ca­mas Vine­yard’s pri­vate hos­pi­tal­ity cen­ter, which also held the own­ers’ per­sonal wine col­lec­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.