Vision Cellars’ Prince of Pinots – Mac McDonald

On September 9, 2014, Primeaux will host its first Winemaker Dinner featuring award winning, limited production Vision Cellars’ owner/winemaker Mac McDonald. Mr. McDonald is known for his Burgundian-style pinot noirs and his farmer’s overalls, topped with a straw hat and contagious smile. Mac can be routinely found tending his vines in Marin, Russian River Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands with his wife of 45 years and winemaking partner Lil.

Mac was bitten by the pinot bug in the mid 1950’s at the age of 12 with his first sip of wine, a 1952 Burgundy. He recalls, “A friend of my father brought over this fantastic French wine and was teased about it, so he put it aside. I somehow got it open, and vowed to myself, then and there, that someday I would make a wine as fine as that. I don’t even know exactly what it was.” The son of a Texas moonshiner, Mac was counseled by his basketball coach to move to California if he wanted to learn to make wine. He followed that advice moving from Texas to California where he worked a day job at Pacific Gas & Electric in San Francisco for 35 years. At the same time he was fortunate enough to have a classic apprenticeship in the craft of winemaking with the Wagner family of winemakers, who are responsible for such popular brands as Caymus, Conundrum and Belle Glos. His first bottling was in 1997. As noted on its website,

“VISION CELLARS is a Passionate Boutique Award Winning Winery specializing in Pinot Noir without compromise. Vision Cellars’ goal is to capture the essence of the Pinot Noir Grape. We are very proud of our accomplishments thus far and strive to continue our education and deliver consistency towards that goal. We are very excited about our new venture which is the harvesting of ‘Ms. Lil’s’ Vineyard”.

While domestic winemakers often claim to make Burgundian pinots, few are able to succeed in the same classic manner as Mac. From the way he grows his grapes, to his vinification and aging methods, he insists on letting the grape and earth speak for themselves through the wine, without the extraction, heavy use of oak and fat alcohol content prized by many other winemakers. Mac is passionate about the matter and a true purist. He once exclaimed “I don’t understand why they want to do that! All you can taste is the wood and the alcohol, and you lose all the terroir and varietal character!”

Mac’s winemaking philosophy is simple and pure, “You have to sample the juice, before you season it.” This starts in the vineyard, tasting for ripeness, and harvesting just before its peak, in order to keep acidity high and alcohol content beneath 14%. Based on enhancing the desired flavor profile, a soupcon of new oak is employed during barrel aging (never more than 20%, and sometimes as little as 15%), which is a relatively short 8 months for all of Vision Cellars’ portfolio.

Mac will be featuring five wines during the Primeaux Winemaker Dinner. The meal will start with the Vision Cellars “Blanc Gris” White Wine, California ’12. Next paired with Pickled Watermelon Rind Salad we will pour the Vision Cellars Rosé of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ’13. Next the Vision Cellars Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ’13. Finally we will pour the Vision Cellars “Rosella’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Monterey County ’09 followed by the Vision Cellars “Rosella’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Monterey County ’07. Seating is limited so call now to reserve your spot to this wine lover’s event. Primeaux Cheese+Vino– Wine a little … Laugh a lot!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *