Arriving in Napa Valley, we stopped in Yountville to meet with winemaker and co-founder of Mira Winery Gustavo A. Gonzalez. He is known as one of the best red wine makers in the world, working in vineyards and wineries in Napa, Argentina, Brazil, France and Italy.a
Walking us through the winery, Gustavo shared some stories about his education at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, and career journey spending 17 years as the head red wine maker at Robert Mondavi. He dreamed of one day having his own boutique winery.
Then his life long dream happened by a chance in Washington D.C. at the Off the Record bar at the Hay-Adams hotel, when he met Jim ‘Bear’ Dyke. While introducing himself, he told Bear about the wine business, and later in the evening they discussed how to build the best winery in Napa Valley. By the end of the evening they became good friends and stayed in touch.
Their friendship turned into a business proposition in 2009, when Gustavo called Bear to tell him that he had a great opportunity obtaining some of the best Syrah grapes from one of the finest growers in Napa Valley. He suggested they make some wine. Bear asked Gustavo if he was willing to leave Mondavi and become his partner, and that is how Mira Winery was born. Mira is the Latin word for miracle. Gustavo believes, “Miracles happen all along the way from grapes to wine in the bottle. Nature itself is so full of miracles.”
When 16 acres just south of Yountville became available, it was planted with vines from the 1890s. Bear purchased the property and Gustavo replanted the land with six different varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris. “We don’t need to irrigate, because grape roots naturally grow deep to obtain ground water,” said Gustavo.
While sipping a glass of Estate White Blend, he led us into his pristine wine making room, to show us his last day of crushed grapes. Gustavo likes to hand-harvest without de-stemming the fruit in the evening and early in the morning when it is cool for the grapes and workers. He likes whole grapes and doesn’t crush them at first, the weight of the grapes together crushes them. “The alcohol eats away the skin and pops the grapes open for the liquid to drain,” he said. “The grapes left inside are pressed and provide a sweeter juice.”
Using only sustainably farming and 100% Napa Valley fruit. Gustavo uses super hot 180 degree water to clean equipment, instead of cleaning products. He allows each wine to reveal itself in its own time. Inspired by the divine proportions of the “Golden Ratio” from building to barrel, this innovative winery offers visitors both a naturally beautiful simplicity and a sense of mysteries with each bottle.
Mira Winery opened to the public in September of 2019, and then had to close in March, 2020 due to Covid-19. They quickly re-opened for outdoor tastings in June 2020. They also gave back to the community with programs such as SIP, where each wine sold had proceeds donated to local restaurant employees. They grew customer awareness and membership by offering virtual wine tastings by sending wines to fans homes.
Mira Winery uses different types of barrels to achieve Gustavo’s wine complexity goals. What this winery has, that no other winery in Southern and Northern America have are two French Oak Eggs. “”Only two of these Ovum Tonnellerie Taransaud’s wooden, egg-shaped fermenters are made per year,” shared Gustavo. He said he likes to make Mira’s Sauvignon Gris in this oak egg. “It aids in the mixing and gives wine a different texture.” He also uses new and older French barrels, as well as stainless steel barrels depending on the wine he is making.
During our tasting inside the library-style tasting room overlooking the vineyard, we started with Mira Pinot Noir Hyde & Sons Vineyard 2014. He made 350 cases on this Pinot that is more spicy than fruity. Its complexity offers a Burgundian nose of sage and mountain herbs. There is a more subtle expression of floral perfume with a hint of pomegranate accentuating warm spice. “This wine grows on your palate while drinking,” said Gustavo. We agreed this pairs beautifully with steak or meaty charcuterie board.
Sipping the Mira Merlot Hyde Vineyard 2016, we discussed the movie Sideways, and how he makes Merlot, like he makes Cabernet with grapes from cooler climate Carneros. This silky Merlot offers ripe red currant and cherry with a hint of mocha and an earthy finish.
We finished with a taste of Mira Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, made with grapes from a tiny vineyard in Oakville. This wine offers delicate spice with vibrant black fruits. Gustavo used 100% new French oak to create structure and complexity.
There is no fee to join the Society 610 wine club offering fans a variety of membership benefits.
Living his dream, Gustavo loves what he does, making some of the best wines in the world. He is proud of the magnificent place he helped build, and the land growing the fabulous grapes at Mira Winery.
This review was featured in Luxe Beat Magazine in November 2022.