Mayo Family Winery
When You’re at Mayo, You Feel Like Family
Just like stepping into a perfect California wine country dream, the first moments entering the Mayo Family Winery tasting room feel like you’ve been welcomed back home. The refreshingly open room, fashioned with a promising wine bar and the stunning vista of the vines of the Valley of the Moon out the winery windows are a welcome sight to any thirsty visitor. It’s the smiling, hospitable faces welcoming you in, however, that give any guest to Mayo Family Winery a true sense of belonging… oh, and a nuzzle from Nibby, the scruffy winery dog, certainly helps, too.
Mayo Family Winery certainly knows how to treat folks right. The winery, in operation since the estate’s first Chardonnay was planted in 1990, is, after all, a family operation. Many of the wines themselves are named for members of the family clan — including the newest member: little ten-month-old Cecilia. Baby Cecilia’s mom, tasting room manager Courtney Emer, is the niece of founders Henry and Diane Mayo, and the winery’s President and CEO, Jeffrey Mayo, is the son of the founders.
Jeffrey Mayo, who runs the day to day operations of the company, played an important role in the winery’s survival during the 2017 Sonoma County fires. While Henry and Diane Mayo lost their home during the fires, Jeffrey Mayo was able to save the winery and many of the estate vineyards. Mayo protected both the fermenting wines already in the tanks and the land itself by using the water from the on-site pool and eating leftover food donated to him from evacuated neighbors’ freezers.
When wine enthusiasts come to Mayo Family Winery seeking out their extraordinary small production cuvées, there’s a few different options from which to choose.
In the tasting room, located in Glen Ellen, visitors up for a more conventional approach may partake in the Premium Tasting. For $10, guests are treated to six different wines, all vinified under the watchful eye of fifteen year veteran Mayo Family winemaker, Mike Berthoud. From the radiant and mildly oaked 2016 Laurel Hill Vineyard “Estate” Chardonnay bearing its traditional Chablis style, to its slightly older and more statuesquely structured cousin, the 2013 Bordeaux-style Malbec known as “Katie’s Cuvée”, Premium tasters are in for a true Sonoma Valley treat.
Those up for a little more of a daring endeavor can try the $15 Adventure Tasting. Here, guests are treated to nine different family wines, including the skin-contact “Ernest’s Cuvée” dry rosé, the gloriously perfumed Harvest Festival Gold Medal winning Stone Ranch old-vine Carignane, and the signature grippy and powerful Petite Sirah, Primitivo, and Grenache based red-blend, “Mayhem.”
For Something Extra Special:
Make a Reservation at The Reserve Room
Located a few miles up Highway 12 to the north in Kenwood, visitors to The Reserve Room are treated to a food and wine pairing that perfectly expresses the beauty of Mayo’s wines and the full potential of the region’s perfect agricultural terroir.
Executive Chef John Locher’s vast knowledge of the family’s wines and his creative take on locally sourced, farm-to-table style cooking, make either the unforgettable seven course wine paired tasting menu — or, the newly added complimentary tapas plate — an unforgettable adventure in flavor.
The exceptional tasting menu begins with the classically Californian 2016 Reserve Chardonnay, drifts toward the off-dry through the vibrantly bright 2015 Romano Vineyard Roussanne, before gliding smoothly into the Burgundy-like 2014 La Cruz Reserve Estate Pinot Noir— all perfectly matched alongside the Chef’s clever amuse-bouches.
The velvety 2014 Reserve Zinfandel pairs with a smokey barbecued pork ‘Pupusa’, and the 2013 Page/Nord Syrah — which presents shadowy notes of dark fruit, pepper, and terra firma — duos magnificently with a semi-sweet glazed Hong Shao Ji chicken wing. The penultimate climax of the tasting, however, is the monstrously bold and structured 2013 Reserve Meritage — a uniquely Californian Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Franc Merlot, and Malbec — which appears alongside a crostini of blue cheese bruschetta with a roasted vegetable ragout and fresh herbs.
Mayo’s sweet and viscous 2017 late-harvest Kunde Ranch Gewürztraminer dessert wine finalizes the tasting and is presented brilliantly alongside an earthy, yet sweet, panna cotta of avocado, topped with a hazelnut brittle and a garden grown macerated fig.
Get Them While You Can
Since Mayo Family Winery only produces about 5000 cases per year, they don’t distribute to retail shops, and wines are sold exclusively through the winery. Their wide variety of cuvées— from whites, bubbles, rosés, reds and dessert wines are available to ship, and even more handily accessible year-round to members of Mayo’s Cellar Club. Those in the club receive twice-a-year home deliveries, unlimited complimentary Tasting Room tastings for members, discounts and access to specialty and limited availability library wines, and special pricing for the food and wine pairing at The Reserve Room.
The Main Hospitality Center and Winery is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and is located at 13101 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. The Reserve Room is at 9200 Sonoma Highway in Kenwood.
For directions, orders, shipping information, and more, call (707) 938-9401 or visit www.mayofamilywinery.com. >> Michael Mahany