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WINEMAKER PROFILE: MAC MCDONALD | WINDSOR CA

IN THE BARRELL | by Taylor Poff

Winemaker Profile: Mac McDonald | Vision Cellars, Windsor, CAMac McDonald is a wine country original. Son of a Texas Moonshine maker, he grew up around distilled spirits and fruit wines, but it was the taste of a 1952 Burgundian wine offered to him by a friend of his Dad’s that made a lasting impression. It was then and there that Mac vowed to, one day, make a wine “that fine.”

Mac moved to California after being encouraged to follow his winemaking dreams by an unlikely source-his high school basketball coach. While working in the utility industry for 32 years, he pursued his passion for wine, most specially Pinot Noir, in his spare time. Before long, he started producing small lots in his garage.

His wines were popular with friends, and eventually Mac realized his ultimate goal by starting Vision Cellars with his wife Lil and an initial investment of $82,000. They released their first vintage in 1997 and since then have become highly recognized vintners. Currently producing over 2000 cases per year, Vision Cellars excels at well-crafted, artisan wines.
Mac and Lil travel around the country taking their message of wine and the pleasures of the table to unique places, for instance his now legendary annual pourings in Harlem.

“It’s about sharing,” Mac says of his wines and their enjoyment. He started making a sweet Riesling, a nod to the fruit wines of his youth, to make his mother Elbessie happy, when he discovered that she was adding sugar to his elegant Pinot Noirs!

Mac’s vibrant winemaking personality continues to attract new aficionados, both near and far. Recently, at the renowned bin 36 restaurant in Chicago, the knowledgeable staff touted Vision Cellars Pinot Noir as one of the best on the market.

The 2000 Pinot Noir ($35) uses fruit from northern Petaluma, and recently received 90 points from the Wine Enthusiast. It has a lovely nose and wonderful fruit, which suggests much more of a Russian River character than that of the Carneros region. The soon to be released 2002 Pinot Noir ($35) was richer and lingers mellifluously, and deservedly took a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Mac also continues to produce a white wine each year, changing the blending as he explores the potential of different fruit sources—his 2003 wine is comprised of 65% St. Helena Sauvignon Blanc and 35% St. Lucia Pinot Gris. These wines consistently score highly at competition and in reviews.

Mac and Lil make their home in suburban Windsor, where rows of grapevines complement gorgeous gardens to complete their backyard mini-estate. Here, legendary barbeque events fill with movers and shakers from all walks of life. Mac’s fans jockey for invitations and travel across the country to share the fruits of his passion, as well as this raconteur’s infamous storytelling.

VISION CELLARS | WINDSOR
707.837.9314


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