One of California’s landmark boutique wineries, historic Mayacamas Vineyard, located near the top of Mount Veeder, has been acquired from Bob Travers and investors by venture capitalist Charles Banks and his wife, Ali, in partnership with billionaire entrepreneur Jay Schottenstein, and his son, Joey.
The property changed hands last week. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Renowned over the years for producing age-worthy, well-structured cabernet sauvignon from mountain fruit, Maycamas Vineyards in recent years has also earned a solid reputation for its flinty, long-lived hillside chardonnays.
Founded in 1889 by John Henry Fisher, a German-born sword engraver, the estate includes 52 acres of vineyards planted on steep mountainsides ranging in elevation from 1,800 to 2,400 feet. Perched on the bowl of a volcano crater, Mayacamas Vineyards boasts groves of old redwoods and abundant wildlife. A basic winery building, in a gravity-fed design, stands at the center of the estate.
Bob and his late wife, Nonie, acquired the small mountain winery 45 years ago, and over the years doubled its production to 5,000 cases. While production focused mainly on cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, Mayacamas also made small amounts of sauvignon blanc, merlot and pinot noir.
“Retirement is my calling now,” Travers said of the sale to the new partners. He and wife Barbara will continue to reside in their home on the winery property for a few more months while “finding another home in Napa to hang my hat. My wife has a home in Laguna Beach so we will live there as well.” Son Chris Travers and his wife, Dolma, will also relocate within the next few months, Travers added.
Travers purchased the stone winery in 1968 after spending a year working with pioneering Napa Valley vintner Joe Heitz.
“We partnered with the Schottensteins because they are dedicated to preserving historic properties,” declared new owner Charles Banks. “They understand the sensitivity and hard work necessary to undertake projects such as these. We’re long-time friends and the thought of rebuilding Mayacamas with them is enormously exciting and rewarding. We are looking forward to being stewards of this cherished site, while exploring its potential even further.”
“It’s our intention to respect this historic property, while rehabilitating the vineyards and winery; a process that will need to be undertaken in order to restore Mayacamas to its original celebrated state,” added Banks, who “fell in love with Mayacamas about 15 years ago, when I had a magnum of the 1970. It’s still one of the greatest Napa Valley cabernets I have ever tasted.”
The 1971 Mayacamas Vineyards cabernet sauvignon captured the imagination of the world when it placed in the game-changing Judgment of Paris tasting of 1976. In the 10- and 30-year replays —in 1986 and 2006 — of the renowned Paris event, the 1971 Mayacamas placed, respectively, second and third, beating all of the French entries, once again solidifying its position as an outstanding vineyard for singular, exceptional Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon.
Mayacamas Vineyards & Winery gained considerable notoriety in the 1970s, when wine writers hailed the 1974 and 1975 Mayacamas cabernets as some of the finest ever produced in United States.
A managing partner, Charles Banks co-founded Terroir Capital with colleague Aaron Faust to invest in unique hospitality and winery properties.
From 2000-2009, he was the managing partner of Jonata Winery, and from 2006-2009 he was managing partner of both Screaming Eagle and Napa Valley Reserve.
Between the spring of 2009 and the fall of 2010, Banks Charles left his positions at Screaming Eagle, Jonata and Napa Valley Reserve to focus on new ventures. In addition to Santa Barbara’s Sandhi Wines, these ventures include Leviathan, a Napa winery in partnership with Andy Erickson and Annie Favia; Mulderbosch, an historic South African winery; Fable (formerly Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards), a property in the Western Cape of South Africa; and a new wine brand that sources juice internationally called Cultivate.
Billionaire entrepreneur Jay Schottenstein heads his family’s empire that includes American Eagle, Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW), a luxury brands chain, a furniture company and extensive real estate activity. Schottenstein owns dozens of commercial centers in the United States, partially or entirely