Beekeeper Cellars is the vision of best friends and co-winemakers Ian Blackburn and Clay Mauritson. The two collaborated after adventurous individual careers in the wine business, and at last, decided to work together on a project of their own.
Clay, a 7th generation grape grower, and his family found themselves the owners of a significant slice of the Rockpile Appellation, through an amazing set of historical land transactions. The Mauritson family realized the potential and parented the creation of the ROCKPILE AVA. In 1998, Ian and Clay climbed the hill and watched the Madrone Spring Vineyard get planted, while discussing the future of Rockpile and the dream it represented.
In 2008, Clay saw the fruits of his family's labor taking shape and came to Ian with a unique opportunity to source some of the Rockpile fruit. He told Ian in the difficult days of 2008, “now is the time to get in and build the business and have it take shape as the market improves, and to not wait until business is strong as you will have a hard time getting access to the right quality assets.” Ian took heed of Clay’s wise comment and said "When your best friend is Clay Mauritson and he offers Rockpile fruit and to assist with winemaking…... you make Zinfandel.”
In Los Angeles, Ian operates a specialty wine marketing organization known as wineLA and has pioneered wine education for the past 20 years (since 1995) through www.learnaboutwine.com and www.wineLA.com. Beekeeper Cellars is also involved in Ian’s Masters of Wine Thesis project and provides him the winemaking training he requires to help pass the difficult Masters of Wine exam...an ongoing pursuit.
ABOUT IAN BLACKBURN, CSW, JWE ¬ LEARNABOUTWINE & WINELA PROFESSIONAL SOMMELIER
Ian drinks wine for a living and plans 50¬‐100 public and private events a year. Ian stays busy buying collectible wines for high profile clients, planning luxury wine trips for his audience, hosting corporate events, and studying for his Master of Wine. Since 1995, LearnAboutWine has done the hard work of building a better culture for fine wine, opening the doors for more quality products to enter the marketplace and has taught over 800,000 students. With a reach of over 80,000 current subscribers and followers, LearnAboutWine now focuses on the best quality events and classes, and wine credential programs which have graduated over 1000 wine students in the last 9 years with a Junior Wine Executive credential (JWE).
At Patz & Hall, our approach to winemaking champions quality at every stage of the process. From our partnerships with the finest vineyards to the custom-made French oak cooperage used to age our small-lot Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, we bring together an array of artisan and cutting-edge techniques to create benchmark wines. In our state-of-the-art winery—which was designed exclusively for producing Chardonnay and Pinot—we apply a consistent winemaking style that allows us to find the voice of each vineyard and vintage, while achieving exceptional quality year after year.
For over 25 years, we have remained committed to handcrafting small-lot and single-vineyard wines, with an exclusive focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Produced using grapes from storied vineyards in the Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Mendocino County, Sonoma Coast and Santa Lucia Highlands, these benchmark wines embody our passionate approach to winemaking, and the diversity of world-class California winegrowing.
ABOUT JAMES HALL
Since 1988, founder and winemaker James Hall has guided the Patz & Hall winemaking program, instilling it with his own boldness, imagination and trademark perfectionism. Combining a belief in great viticulture, traditional winemaking practices, and the judicious use of innovative techniques, James has earned a reputation for crafting dramatic benchmark Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that balance vibrant power with vineyard-inspired depth and sophistication.
The son of an English professor, who was also a wine enthusiast, James developed an early appreciation for fine wine during travels with his family to Europe in the late 1960s. While studying liberal arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz, James met Anne Moses, and together the two began exploring their shared interest in wine. Though not part of his curriculum, James started studying winemaking textbooks in his spare time. Inspired, he transferred to the University of California, Davis, to study viticulture and enology. Eager to experience the hands-on work of winemaking, James took his first winery job at Felton-Empire in 1981, where he was able to learn from renowned winemakers Leo McCloskey and Patrick Mahaney. “Leo was the scientist, obsessed with unraveling the mysteries of wine, Pat was the craftsman, meticulously working with the raw materials. It was a remarkable experience learning these complementary approaches.”
In 1983, James joined Napa Valley’s Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards as assistant winemaker. There, he spent four years developing his expertise crafting barrel-fermented, small-lot Chardonnays. While at Flora Springs, James struck up a close friendship with sales manager Donald Patz, and the two soon discovered that they shared a similar philosophical approach to wine and winemaking. In the spring of 1988, while working as the winemaker and estate manager for Honig Winery, James teamed up with Donald and Heather Patz, and Anne Moses to make and release Patz & Hall’s inaugural Napa Valley Chardonnay.
As Patz & Hall’s winemaker for over a quarter century, James has built lasting relationships with such renowned growers as Larry Hyde, Charlie and Bud Chenoweth, Gary Pisoni and Lee Martinelli to create an acclaimed portfolio of single-vineyard wines. At the same time, he has designed and implemented cutting-edge equipment and procedures, including a custom punch-over device, in an effort to constantly enhance quality. A master of his craft, and a widely respected veteran winemaker, James is regularly asked to speak about artisan winemaking.