Jeffrey Patterson is sitting pretty high atop a mountain in Santa Cruz, at an elevation of 2,000 feet, looking down upon his vineyards which trellis down the mountainside and the valley floor, what is now known as the Silicon Valley. His winery, Mount Eden Vineyards, has a long and illustrious history dating back to 1942 when Martin Ray planted Pinot Noir on Mt. Eden.
Ray had purchased the estate from his neighbor, Paul Masson, and had watched the Masson wine industry take off and clearly was inspired to take it further. Now, sixty-plus years later, Ray is known for having started the first boutique winery in California and his spirit certainly exists in what Jeffrey and his wife, Ellie, are continuing.
After driving up a very treacherous unpaved road, one is greeted by Jeffrey in his working boots walking from his stunningly restored Arts and Crafts home, perfectly appointed with period antiques, a billiards table, and numerous musical instruments. Jeffrey started as the assistant winemaker at Mt. Eden in 1981, becoming the general manager and head winemaker just over a year later. Investing in the business as shareholders, he and Ellie were able to purchase the business outright in 1993.
Explaining the legacy he was able to acquire, this quiet, serenely eloquent man immediately impresses with his passion, accessibility, as well as knowledge of arcane local history. My fortune on that day was that I was visiting with friends, Ron and Marcia Cali, who have a pretty significant family history attributed to Ron’s family having run a poultry and dairy mill. How can one express the joyful serendipity of Jeffrey reminiscing for a valley once known for apricot and prune orchards, pointing out what had been the one landmark he could see from his mountain, the tallest building in the valley being the local mill, and Ron chiming that it had been his family’s business?
Now, almost 25 years later, Jeffrey is obviously proud of the reputation he has built, producing 10,000 cases of a Chardonnay that are known for their cellarability of up to thirty years, some being estate grown and some from purchased grapes. At only 4,000 to 5,000 cases, is his classic, elegant Pinot Noir that rivals the French. He explained that he utilizes the French style of not irrigating his Pinot Noir grapes, believing it provides a stamp of originality to his finished product. Original and impressive, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jeffrey for opening up his home and allowing me a glimpse of his castle.
2002 Mt. Eden Estate Chardonnay – Unfiltered and elegantly balanced. Layers and layers of tropical fruit danced with a creamy tease in the aroma. An acidic entry explodes and the heady aroma expands, producing some additional creamy fruit which was reminiscent of guava, papaya, and kiwi. A second smell produced a hint of lime and the heady aroma blossomed driving the long, luxurious finish. $35.00
2001 Mt. Eden Estate Pinot Noir – Immediate aromas of dark berry just barely hide the teasing of the dark spice; clove, cinnamon, and sumac. The spice bouquet seems to heighten the fruit to another level of being completely unctuous in minerality and clean and forthright. The mouth entry is rich and vibrant with a bright mid-palate. The wine shows some reticence, being on the European style of slighter higher acids. Would age exceptionally well. $35.00
Mt. Eden Vineyards ~
22020 Mt. Eden Road ~
Saratoga ~ CA ~ 95070 ~ 888-865-9463