Armed with the enthusiasm of a 25-year-old and confidence in California’s potential to make world-class wines, Francis Mahoney set out in 1971 with his bride, Kathy, to grow Pinot Noir and make wines that would rival red Burgundies. Undaunted by Pinot Noir’s reputation as a difficult grape to grow and vinify, Francis accepted the challenge.
He researched the elements linked with great French Pinot Noirs, noting that the Burgundians were captivated by the concept of terroir, the combined influence of climate and place on a wine. Francis found an area similar to Burgundy in Los Carneros, the appellation which lies across the southernmost portions of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Often obscured by fog and swept by breezes from San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Carneros offered...
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