Craig Smith's Downtown Talk: Welcome to Mario Bazán Cellars…
Downtown Talk

Craig Smith's Downtown Talk: Welcome to Mario Bazán Cellars…


Mario and Gloria Bazán recently opened Mario Bazán Cellars at 960 Clinton St., across from Napa Valley Bistro. Ardent fans of their Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, both of which have received rave reviews, are happy to see them in downtown Napa.

Mario Bazán’s agricultural life began in his family’s cornfield in Mexico. He came to the U.S. in 1973 in search of work and a better life, settling in the Napa Valley where he has focused his life’s work in the vineyards.

After working at several prestigious wineries, he joined Robert Mondavi Winery in 1979 as a vineyard laborer and tractor driver. Mario advanced through the ranks and was ultimately placed in charge of such iconic vineyards as Opus One and To Kalon.

He remained at Robert Mondavi for sixteen years until moving on to the historic Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in 1995. Stag’s Leap was Mario’s last stop before realizing his entrepreneurial dream of owning his own vineyard management company in 1997.

Mario continues to farm several hundred vineyard acres from Napa to Calistoga including the valley floor, foothills and steep mountain ranges.

Gloria Bazán had an established pediatric dental practice in Michoacán, Mexico, until 2005 when, after several years of a long-distance relationship, she and Mario were married.

Gloria gave up her dental practice and everything she knew, and moved to Napa where she immediately immersed herself in Mario’s new winery venture. They had twin sons in 2007, and their first vintage was released in 2008 – just as the economy tanked.

Robert Parker gave one of their initial releases a well deserved 92 rating, and despite the economy, people found and bought their wines. Gloria operates the new tasting room, complementing her artistic and aesthetic passion with her dedication to the wine.

Enthusiastically, she believes there is always a way to makes things work. This attitude fully compliments the team effort. Today Mario Bazán Cellars produces about 1,500 cases a year.

“Grape growing will always be Mario’s true passion,” said Gloria. Their partnership with well-respected winemaker Kian Tavakoli enables each to do what they do best.

“I am extremely excited, and humbled to be working closely with Gloria and Mario Bazán to help them guide the wonderful fruit that Mario grows towards focused, structured, and just plain delicious wines,” said Tavakoli.

Asked how it felt to see his name on a wine label, Mario humbly answered, “To me, it’s an acknowledgement of all who came before me and helped me on my journey.”

Open Thursday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 707-927-5564, or

Three Locals Night Out events left…

Last Wednesday, Brian Albright from Sky & Vine won the People’s Choice and Judges award for his creation “Midsummers Night Delight.”

Join us this Wednesday, and for $1, sample three different cocktails and help pick the weekly winner.

See you downtown!

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association and the author of “Lies That Bind – How Do You Arrest Someone Who Doesn’t Exist?” which recently won a Bay Area Publisher’s Association Fiction Award. or 257-0322.

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