Napa Valley Icons Fifty Years Later: Beaulieu, Heitz, and Mayacamas

We are blessed with an abundance of boutique wineries these days (more than 400 at last count).

So, it’s hard to imagine a very different Napa Valley — say the mid-1970s — when it was just another west coast agricultural region where plums and walnuts were as viable as a crop of grapes, and pig farms dotted the landscape. Around 30 wineries were in operation at the time.

The 1976 Judgment at Paris changed all that. The blind tasting at the international event pitted the best of Bordeaux and Burgundy against the top Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays of a promising but still somewhat under-the-radar wine region known as Napa Valley.

 

To everyone’s surprise, California winemakers won. With legitimacy thusly conferred on the quality of their stateside endeavors it didn’t take long before the very foundation of the wine world was shook.

 

Which brings us to present day and this thrilling lot of 1974 Cabernets. The three wineries represented here are iconic with such rich history, not to mention superb wine!

 

Beaulieu Vineyard BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1974

Named in their founder’s honor, this wine was destined to become one of Napa Valley’s first “cult” Cabernets. In 70+ years since, Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has become one of the most collected American wines — and the benchmark of Napa Valley Cabernet. In operation for more than a century, Beaulieu Vineyard is one of the longest continually operating wineries in the region. It’s kept company with some well-known historic figures, too. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Beaulieu Vineyard wines were served at state dinners and receptions honoring many leaders including Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, Winston Churchill, President Truman, Queen Elizabeth, and Prince Phillip.

 

Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 1974

Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 1974 (1.5L)

Family owned since its founding in 1961, Heitz Cellar’s legacy runs deep. The Heitz family’s dedication to viticulture, stewardship, and classic winemaking has maintained the winery’s standing as a giant among its peers in California and Europe. Getting a 1974 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard is a coup. Getting one in Magnum… is unheard of! This was the first vintage that David Heitz made the wine. It is one of the most famous wines ever produced in the history of California and often compared to the 1945 Château Mouton-Rothschild.

 

Heitz Cellar is now in the hands of the Lawrence family, which is equally committed to the original owner’s vision. They continue the winery’s adherence to quality from organically farmed, 100% Napa Valley fruit, and a commitment to the sustainability of Napa Valley. All their vineyards are certified CCOF organic.

 

Mayacamas Vineyards Napa Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1974

Grapes have grown continuously at Mayacamas since the first vines were planted almost 130 years ago by German immigrant John Henry Fisher. Originally called Fisher and Sons, the winery was renamed by new owners in 1941 to give a nod to the mountain range on which it stands. “Mayacamas” is based on the indigenous Wappo language and is believed to mean “the howl of the mountain lion.” (Hence two lions within the “M” on its labels.)

 

Mayacamas’s Cabernet Sauvignon can more than hold its own with the best old world wines. Their 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon was part of the famous Judgment of Paris Tasting in 1976 and placed 7th in the original tasting. In the 1986 tasting, it came in second, ahead of all French wines. In the 2006 anniversary tasting, Mayacamas placed joint third, again beating all the French wines. (And we are more than delighted to have Mayacamas as an l’Eté du Vin Featured Vintner this year!)

 

You don’t want to miss this rare opportunity to buy these rare 1974 Cabs from Napa icons. Grab your paddle and a piece of Napa Valley history at l’Eté du Vin!

 

This wine lot contains:

 

  • Beaulieu Vineyard BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1974
  • Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 1974
  • Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 1974 (1.5L)
  • Mayacamas Vineyards Napa Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1974

 

Donated by Diana & Stacy Childs