The best wine in America is MacDonald, made in To-Kalon by brothers Alex and Graeme MacDonald on the oldest dry-farmed vines in Napa on a parcel that was the backbone of the great Mondavi Reserve wines of yesteryear.
Never heard of it?
Uncompromising, humble, loyal, and curious, pragmatic, talented, visionary - the brothers MacDonald have built a juggernaut that asks the question: How can we create the best possible wine in the glass?
In 1954 the MacDonald family replaced cherries with grapes in the historic To-Kalon Vineyard and sold grapes exclusively to Robert Mondavi on a handshake. Robert Mondavi referred to the MacDonalds as “the best grape-growers in the Napa Valley”.
In 2010, Alex and Graeme released the first wine under the family name after a 60-year stewardship of vines and over 140 years of grape-growing history on the property.
MacDonald Cabernet Sauvignon $1,950
Friday, October 28th, 2022 @ 7 pm
Five Course Tasting Menu - Invite Only
Every Vintage of MacDonald and several historical vintages of Robert Mondavi Reserve
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In the immortal words of Lou Brown, "Forget about the curve ball Ricky, give him the heater".
There is a Native American phrase —Tu-la-halusi— meaning “beautiful land,” used to describe the upper Napa Valley and repeated by early settlers. Our story begins with the history of our property, whose first wines were branded TO-KALON, meaning “the most beautiful.” Our property was originally planted to vines in the early 1870’s by the grandson of Napa Valley pioneer George Yount. The Yount Family retained this as one of the final pieces of their Caymus Rancho, which originally had encompassed 12,000 acres in the heart of the Napa Valley.
To-Kalon vineyard crew grafting young vines poses for a picture – Spring, 1906
In the pioneer days of Napa Valley winemaking, the famed TO-KALON wines, made from grapes sourced in part from our property, are thought to have garnered more awards than any other winery in the pre-Prohibition era. By the turn of the century the advent of phylloxera had decimated the original vineyards and the vines were removed and replanted to cherries. The expanding orchard and the surrounding acres would eventually become one of the largest cherry plantations in the United States.
Our property planted to cherries during prohibition, facing northwest – Fall, 1924
By 1917, steel tycoon D. P. Doak had purchased the property and begun construction on one of the most magnificent private residences in the Napa Valley. At a cost of over $200,000 it included extravagant cascading pools, marble fountains, and sunken gardens by landscape architect John McLaren, designer of Golden Gate Park. In 1927, the original residence was offered to President Calvin Coolidge as a summer White House. After falling into disrepair, the Doak Mansion was purchased by the Carmelite Order and converted into its present day use as an active monastery.
1940’s aerial photograph of the cherry orchard (Left side at the base of the mountains)
In 1954, our family planted the first vines on the property since prohibition as the last of the cherry trees were being removed. For 60 years the grapes have been sold exclusively to Robert Mondavi and have been part of his Reserve and To-Kalon blends since their inception. Robert Mondavi used to refer to our family as “the best grape-growers in the Napa Valley” and, when he and our Great Uncle resurrected the property’s historic name, our family was included as the only private growers to be part of the Robert Mondavi To-Kalon Vineyard.
Our cherry barn and vineyard facing southwest towards the Mayacamas Mountains – 1970
In 2010, for the first time in our family’s 60 year stewardship, and in over 140 years of grape-growing history on the property, we are proud to present our first release of MACDONALD.
Producing wine from our family’s vineyard is a dream, inspired by our grandmother and preserved by the three generations before us. Our grandfather taught us attention to detail, tending the vineyard with his own hands and creating the legacy of family farming that exists today.
It is because of a 50 year friendship with Robert Mondavi that our small vineyard has been preserved.
MACDONALD is a collaboration between brothers Alex and Graeme MacDonald
Our grandfather delivering grapes to the Robert Mondavi Winery – Harvest, 1978
A Wine's Quality Is Determined In The Glass.
Shane Benson | Owner | New York Vintners