There’s something about McPrice “Mac” Myers, the Winemaker and Co-owner of McPrice Myers, that inspires wine enthusiasts to get personally involved. That’s what happened with now Associate Winemaker Adrian Perez and Co-Owner Venus Lai once they tasted Mac’s wines.
The journey took them from members of the wine club to full-time employees. In fact, Venus and Mac ended up creating a partnership in 2002 to purchase 84 acres with 20 acres of vineyards that became McPrice Myers Vineyards.
McPrice Myers didn’t know much about wine. It wasn’t on the table when he was growing up and he wasn’t formally trained. His job at Trader Joe’s started his journey as he tried different wines with a group of friends interested in learning about wine. He started visiting wineries in Santa Barbara and Paso Robles. He recounted the first time he went into a barrel room and talked to a winemaker. He knew that this is what he wanted to do.
He started to learn all that he could about wine. He read. He talked to winemakers. He found a custom crush facility with no minimum fruit restrictions at Central Coast Wine Services and decided to make his first wine. Fast forward 20 years later and Mac has continued to produce wines that show the unique terroirs, soil types, and microclimates of the Central Coast – specifically Paso Robles and Santa Barbara. I’ve had a chance in the past to dive into what makes Paso Robles and Santa Barbara special.
The Evolution of McPrice Myers Winery
Since then, the winery has moved to its current site in the Adelaida District. Over the years, McPrice Myers wines continue to gain increasing attention from wine lovers and critics like Robert Parker. Venus and Mac worked together to transform the property. In 2018, the Hilltop House (the original house on the property) was transformed into a vacation home. They are currently working on a new modern hospitality and tasting room. And the Brightest Star wine label is inspired by Venus.
The Wines and the Approach
The winery grows a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc.
I was invited to a virtual tasting with Mac and Adrian. Our tasting included three Cabernet Sauvignons from three different labels all sourced from Paso Robles. This tasting was proof that Paso Robles continues to make some diverse and quality cabernets.
Our first cabernet was “Bull by the Horns” from the winery’s “Hard Working Wines” label, a cabernet sourced from six different AVAs. Mac talked about the name coming from an often-stated quote from his dad. “Grab the bull by the horns when up for a challenge.” He took that seriously by creating a hard-working brand at $25. In 2021, they made 22,000 cases.
“We want the wine to taste like cabernet and not crème brulee,” he said. He and Aaron talked about the effort that it takes to make value wines. “We can’t afford to make a mistake and there is no room for error,” they said. “Everyone deserves to have a good wine at an affordable price.”
2021 McPrice Myers Bull by the Horns Cabernet Sauvignon – black currant, herbs, cranberry, mocha, eucalyptus, and bay leaf. It is a blend of 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 6% Merlot, 6% Petite Sirah and 2% Petite Verdot.
M Cabernet is a label that pays tribute to the generational farmers who have become partners to help the winery make the wines they want to grow. Growers like Estrella, El Pomar, Creston, Geneseo Districts including John Vineyards, Beato, Armory, Bootjack Ranch, Wilderness and Lago Vineyards. The M Cabernet label is an example of the crawlers (not tractors) used to farm this difficult land. It’s billed as a wine with “soul and structure.”
I tasted chocolate, licorice, tapenade, blackberry, and spice. This is a steal at $35.
This line is a tribute to the articulate diversity of the Paso Robles appellation with the best mountain vineyards and limestone soil. Mac and Adrian talked about their weekly homework to taste blends and how on one Monday they came to a decision they needed to reblend a wine that they were supposed to bottle on Friday. “We are known as the madmen of blending,” they said. It is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 4% Syrah.
2021 McPrice Myers Beautiful Earth – I tasted blackberry, mocha, cassis, herbs, and chocolate. It was floral and rich and another great cabernet bargain at $60.
As we wrapped up, Mac and Adrian talked about the responsibility of a winemaker. Knowing the wine – when things are symbiotic with the grape – from bud break to bottle. The importance of being clean farmers with a focus on the wine, the land, and the employees. Choosing the right growers who want diversity and to take care of the earth. Together they aspire to elevate Paso Robles place as a leader in the wine world and build a better future for our planet.