After nearly 30 years crafting world renowned wines for Sonoma County pioneer St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, legendary winemaker Tom Mackey has announced his retirement from his position as Winemaster and Director of Winemaking effective December 2011.
Tom began his association with St Francis in 1983 when he became its first winemaker. At that time there were just a handful of wineries in Sonoma and the region was struggling to find its identity. Tom led the way, identifying varietals suited to the varied soils and microclimates and pioneering a Sonoma Valley style of winemaking. “Early on, extraction was the key, deriving maximum color, flavor and aroma from the grapes,” recalls Tom. “Big wines with balance was the goal. Over the years, elegance and subtlety became as important as structure and concentration.”
“Sonoma has always been a story of hard work and passion for the land we farm,” said winery President Christopher Silva. “Tom reminded the world that Sonoma’s story is best told through our wines.”
Tom introduced Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel to the St. Francis portfolio and strengthened the winery’s commitment to Chardonnay and Merlot. He launched the winery’s successful Reserve program, first with Merlot and Chardonnay and later with Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, which earned Tom and the winery numerous accolades over the years. In 1987 Robert Parker rated the 1984 St Francis Reserve Merlot 91 points and in 1997 the Wine Spectator named Tom Mackey “Master of Merlot.” He was named “Winemaker of the Year” by the Quarterly Review of Wines (1999), honored as “International Red Winemaker of the Year” at the London International Wine Fair (2001) and “Winemaker of the Year” by the New York Institute of Technology/QRW (2005).
“The advances in winemaking have allowed us to achieve a greater purity of fruit, a greater integration of oak and wine, and a balance of richness and longevity. However, the viticultural advances in rootstock, clones, row spacing, training, crop, canopy and irrigation management along with an evolving definition of fruit ripeness have been nothing short of revolutionary,” Tom explains.
Following Tom’s participation in the expansion of the original St. Francis Winery, he was instrumental in designing, equipping and staffing the new state of the art St. Francis facility.
Under Tom’s leadership the winery has assembled a strong and talented winemaking team. Heather Munden will continue as Artisan Winemaker and Associate Winemaker Katie Madigan will become the Sonoma County Winemaker upon retirement of current Sonoma County Winemaker Dennis Borell at the end of 2011. Tom will remain a consultant to the winery. His 38 years in the industry and dedication to the brand he helped build will surely contribute to St. Francis Winery’s continued success.
Tom resides in Santa Rosa with wife Miriam and their four legged friends Cleo and Alex.
About St. Francis Winery & Vineyards:
For over 35 years, St. Francis Winery in Sonoma has hand-crafted fruit forward, luscious and full-bodied wines from superior mountain and valley vineyards in Sonoma County’s best appellations. While most renowned for its red varietals, including its Zinfandel (all old vines 60 - 110 years old), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Francis also produces a noteworthy Chardonnay. St. Francis Sonoma County wines are bursting with flavor and are recognized globally for outstanding quality and value.