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Macauley: Sweet Danger

The Macauley Vineyard label was originally established in St. Helena in the early 1980s by Ann Macauley Watson and for several years produced a very well received late harvest Sauvignon Blanc with help from renowned winemaker, Rick Forman.

In the late summer of 2000, Ann’s son Mac, went to work for Rudd Estate in Oakville. After several months of winery work and education, Mac was inspired to revive the family label, after a 13-year hiatus. With help from childhood friend and winemaker Kirk Venge, he crushed his first grapes in October of 2001.

Mac and Kirk have one goal: to source the highest quality fruit in Napa Valley and make wines of extraordinary depth and personality. The grapes they choose showcase the terroir of the vineyards and create a remarkable wine-drinking experience.

“Dulce Periculum” is the Macauley clan motto. Many have inquired over the years as to the meaning of this Latin text that appears on the Macauley label. When Mac decided to incorporate the family crest into his label, it was important to him not to omit these two words. The phrase, which translates to “sweet danger”, epitomizes his relationship with wine. It is the anticipation and moment of discovery he experiences as a collector of wine. It is ever present in Mac’s journey as a vintner. As Mac says: “It is the thrill of each harvest as the elements of that year and my own judgment culminate in the formation of a unique vintage. It is my relationship to a particular vintage”. Dulce Periculum is the appreciation Mac feels for the ephemeral nature of wine, while relishing its bold essence.

“It is the thrill of each harvest as the elements of that year and my own judgment culminate in the formation of a unique vintage. It is my relationship to a particular vintage”

The Winemaker

Second-generation winemaker Kirk Venge grew up in the Napa Valley. At his father’s side, he learned about farming and winemaking, feeling at home in the cellar at an early age. While pursuing his enology degree at the University of California at Davis, Venge worked at Mumm Napa Valley for five years in their experimental division. Upon graduation, Venge sought to expand his winemaking knowledge by traveling to New Zealand and working harvest in the southern hemisphere. Equipped with a broader sense of viticultural techniques, Venge returned to Napa to partner with his father in the creation of Venge Vineyards. Today, Venge brings his skill and passion to Macauley Vineyard. Those who know Kirk Venge will attest to his acute palate. His wines reflect balance and finesse. Because Kirk believes that wines are made in the vineyard, he is relentless in his quest to find the very best vineyard locations and sources of fruit.

The Vineyards

To Kalon
Originally planted in 1868 by pioneer viticulturist Hamilton W. Crabb, the historic To Kalon Vineyard provides grapes for some of the Napa Valley’s most sought after wines including Harlan Estate, Bacio Divino, Carter, Schrader, Paul Hobbs and Macauley.

To Kalon is Greek for “highest quality” or “greatest beauty”. The vineyard sits at the base of the Mayacamas Mountain Range in the Oakville AVA and is managed by the famed Andy Beckstoffer whose passion for growing the best grapes possible is legendary in the Napa Valley.

Mac’s To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon is a Clone 337 on 110 R rootstock and was planted in the early 1990’s. The clay and loam alluvial soils of the appellation give the vines very deep roots with excellent drainage. The berries are small and the bunches are tight, making for a concentrated and flavourful wine of “highest quality” and “greatest beauty”.

Star Vineyard
Originally a collaboration of the late Reg Oliver, Ric Forman and David Abreu, Star Vineyard grows in the heart of the Rutherford Appellation. Its location on the west side of Highway 29 in the middle of the Rutherford “Bench” means the vines get wonderful sun exposure and sink their roots into deep, well drained alluvial soils. This is one of the valley’s most celebrated spots for grape growing.

The vines of Star Vineyard have produced consistently delightful wines, including Forman, El Molino and St. Clemente. Mac gets his Cabernet Sauvignon from the most historic, most long running Star Vineyard block. A fifty-fifty split of Clone 7 and Martha’s on 110 R stock, these vines took root under the dedicated care of Reg Oliver in 1991. They are now managed by David Abreu, one of the most sought after vineyard consultants in California

Stagecoach Vineyard
It is here that the Krupp brothers, Jan and Bart, have excavated over a billion pounds of basalt, andesite, and tufa boulders to create a remarkable property – Stagecoach Vineyard. In recent years, Stagecoach Vineyard has become one of the most renowned vineyards in Napa Valley. It rises 900 feet above sea level and continues to climb to nearly 1,850 feet at its highest elevations on the southern side of the Oakville appellation’s Pritchard Hill. Blessed with south-facing slopes filled with shallow, volcanic soils, the site’s rugged terroir is ideal for growing intensely coloured Cabernet Sauvignon grapes rich with mineral and mountain flavours.

Click here to find out more about the wines of Macauley Vineyard in British Columbia or click here for Alberta