It's been said that a few moments can sometimes define a person's life. Standing in the midst of the Carneros one blistering day, bay breezes wicking up the moisture, dust acting as messengers for fragrance, one might have thought Francis Mahoney was a bit like the apostle Paul when he was knocked off his horse on the way to Damascus . . . he found himself pawing the ground, and then he bought it.
Born in San Francisco of Irish parents, Francis Mahoney has developed a reputation as a pioneer in the development of the Pinot grape in California. He has developed a balance between a wide knowledge of the science of winemaking—enology—and an understanding of how to nurture and encourage the best out of the land.
He received a Bachelor's degree from the University of San Francisco, and took off to visit Europe, where among other adventures, he spent some time working at his family's farm in County Cork, Ireland. Returning to San Francisco to the life of a teacher in the public school system, he realized that a weekend job with a local wine merchant was turning into a real passion. He followed his passions and began working full time for Connoisseur Wine Imports. Subsequently, he studied enology at the University of California at Davis, made wine commercially for Connoisseur Wine Imports, and made the leap from seller to maker, as Vineyard Manager for Mayacamas Winery, a mountainside property overlooking the Napa Valley.
With the establishment of Carneros Creek Winery in 1972, he began to turn his passion for Burgundies into an enterprise which now produces over 32,000 cases annually. Since 1974 Francis has sponsored research with the University of California at Davis to determine which clonal selections will produce Pinot Noir worthy to stand alongside the Burgundies he so admires.
Tasting Notes—November 1998