by Fred McMillin
for May 24, 1999


Anatomy of a Cab


One of the outstanding Napa Cabernet producers is Villa Mt. Eden. The Cabs are noted for their richness.

...Wine Atlas of California, J. Halliday

The Rest of the Story

Sipping one of those Cabs, you get a huge variety of flavors...plums, chocolate, black olives, a little pepper, etc. Where do they come from? Winemakers Mike McGrath and Jed Steele explain that there are three reasons: location, location and location, as follows.

Villa Mt. Eden

Eastern Hillsides of the Napa Valley have infertile soil yielding smaller grapes with more intense color and flavor.

Western Hillsides of the Napa Valley have more fertile soil and its wines are more tannic.

Valley Floor rich soil yields the chocolate and black-olive flavors. Mike and Jed used all three sources in today's fine wine.

Wine of the Day

1995 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Villa Mt. Eden, St. Helena, CA
Rating—My panel was very impressed and gave it an EXCELLENT.
Food Affinities—I was going to suggest a beefburger, but then, Ogden Nash cautioned:

    "Beefburger is a term worth hating,
    Both fraudulent and infuriating,
    Contrived to foster the belief
    That only beefburgers are made of beef,
    Implying with shoddy flim and flam
    That hamburgers are made of ham!
So I'm intimidated. Let's enjoy the wine with barbecued ribs.
Contact—Benjamin Myers, (425) 488-1133, FAX (425) 488-3331
Price—$20 range


Origin of the Winery Name—Popular because of the implication of an earthly paradise, Eden is part of the name of about 15 locations in California. The Mount Eden Company, a farmers association, was formed in 1850. No actual mountain was involved.

Now, to the wineries.
1881—The eleventh bonded winery in the Napa Valley is founded, the Mount Eden Winery. Decades later it faded from the scene.
1960s—The legendary Martin Ray bought 320 acres on Table Mountain and created Mount Eden Vineyard Corp. in Mounterey County.
1974—Stanford grads James and Anne McWilliams buy the still-standing old frame winery of the original Mount Eden Winery in Napa, but Mr. Ray now has the name. Hence, their winery is called Villa Mount Eden.
Oh yes. I'm not sure where the $ came from for the McWilliams to purchase that property, but Anne's grandfather WAS A. P. Giannini, who DID found the Bank of America.

Credits: C. Sullivan's Wine Companion;
Research Asst.—Diane Bulzomi

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


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