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There is no mistaking Mac McDonald, owner and winemaker at Vision Cellars
, in overalls and straw hat on his vineyard in Sonoma County–or anywhere else for that matter. Overalls and a straw hat is the daily uniform for this winemaker from a small country town in Texas. His father was a moonshine maker, but Mac quickly fell in love with wine, after tasting a “phenomenal” wine from Burgundy at the age of 12.
The man’s winemaking philosophy sounds deceptively simple, given it’s being expressed by a highly sophisticated craftsman, “You have to sample the juice, before you season it.” This starts in the vineyard, tasting for ripeness, and harvesting just before its peak, in order to keep acidity high and alcohol content beneath 14%. Based on enhancing the desired flavor profile, a soupcon of new oak is employed during barrel aging (never more than 20%, and sometimes as little as 15%), which is a relatively short 8 months for all of Vision Cellar’s portfolio.
Vision Cellar's Mac McDonald:
5 things to know about California winemaker before his Huntsville wine dinner.
"I have this theory that if you want a 17-point-eight zinfandel with your fried catfish, that's what you should have," Mac McDonald says.
McDonald is calling from outside a barn, and looking out over his Sonoma County, Calif. vineyard, named Ms. Lil's, where he grows the grapes that go into his Vision Cellar wines.