Past Meetup

Vision Cellars winemaker dinner with Mac McDonald at Westside Tavern

This Meetup is past

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I can't believe Wine Noir's good fortune to have Mac McDonald, the pioneer of African-American winemakers, visiting us again. Come enjoy an exclusive evening of his award-winning Vision Cellars wines, with Chef Ben Cohn's (just named Best Chef America!), five-course menu at Westside Tavern. If you are able to join us, it is necessary to contact Westside's general manager, Kevin Brady (kbrady@westsidetavernla.com) before Wednesday, 10/23. The restaurant requires you give them a credit card # to hold your reservation, although they will not charge it unless you attend.

We will enjoy the following brilliantly inspired pairings, for only $65.00, tax and gratuity excluded:

2012 Vision Cellars White blend: Sauvignon blanc/Pinot Gris:
Shrimp ceviche, lime, mango, jalapeño, cilantro, crispy tortilla

2009 Vision Cellars Chileno Valley Pinot Noir, Marin County:
Terrine of kurobuta pork, cornichon, whole grain mustard, toasted sourdough

2011 Vision Cellars Sonoma Pinot Noir:
Potato crusted Scottish salmon, braised leeks, porcini butter

2009 Rosella's Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Roast duck breast, crispy leg confit, caramelized brussel sprouts, sweet potato
purée , poached pear duck jus

Cheese course

Coffee and cookies

Can't wait to see you there!

About Mac McDonald and his award-winning wines: Wine Spectator’s article, “Magnificent 30”, ranked Mac McDonald number seven of the thirty top domestic pinot producers, and for good reason. He has accomplished something much talked about, but rarely achieved today in California: a portfolio of balanced, moderate, terroir-driven wines with Old World leanings.

Mac’s journey into winemaking is a fascinating one. As with many artists, his muse seized him during a singular moment in childhood. At 12, he somehow got his hands on a bottle of 1952 French pinot noir and was smitten by the first sip. He says, “I vowed then and there that one day, I would make a wine as fine as that.” There were a few hurdles to overcome. It was the mid-50’s in rural east Texas with no viticulture in sight. He was also African American wanting to enter one of the era’s least diverse industries. What to do?

Sagely, his high school basketball coach advised that to learn about wine, Mac had to move to California. With no plan, but to visit Napa and Mendocino wineries, he got a job at Sherwin-Williams in Oakland. Weekends were spent haunting vineyards, talking to anyone who would listen about his desire to make Burgundy-like pinot noir.

One of those people was Caymus’ patriarch, Charlie Wagner, who Mac flagged down out in the fields on his tractor. Wagner took him into the family, where he learned every aspect of the trade. This partnership, and numerous trips to Burgundy, were Mac’s training ground. Finally, in 1995, Vision Cellars opened in Sonoma, named for its owner’s boyhood dream.

Mac’s pinot noirs are a synthesis of earthiness, sensuousness and elegance, made with finesse. His philosophy is to harvest just before the peak of ripeness, keeping alcohol at lower levels, while attaining a precise counterbalance of fruit and acid. Aging is done with only 15-20% new French oak for a short nine months, supporting the maximum expression of varietal character and regional typicity.

There must be something to it, because starting with its debut vintage in 1997, Vision Cellars has received awards and high ratings from major wine publications. The wines are distinguished by having been served at The White House since the Clinton administration and grace the menus of fine restaurants nationwide.
Mac’s room-illuminating smile and contagious enthusiasm for wine make him a captivating speaker.