The Story of McGrail Vineyards

Focus on one thing first, let’s make world class Cabernet and then we can talk about the rest.”

Jim McGrail, Co-Founder

History of McGrail Vineyards

Award Winning Cabernet in the Livermore Valley!

McGrail Vineyards is a family owned winery specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon. On the hilltop of Greenville Road the vineyard enjoys the morning fog and afternoon sun. The winery is a vineyard driven operation that considers itself a foremost proponent of the potential of the Livermore Valley. The vineyard is managed with sustainability and quality in mind.

Discovering McGrail Vineyards tasting room is to uncover a unique winery where the passion to craft the finest Cabernet Sauvignon is equal to creating an unforgettable experience where outstanding customer service is a must.

The McGrail family is warm, passionate, and down-to earth. They strive to take the “snobiness” out of wine tasting. Intimidation is unheard of and the tasting room feels a bit like home, with big screen TV’s, loud noise, and amazing views! The patio offers some of the best views of the Livermore Valley and is a secret oasis just outside of city limits.

The McGrail’s invite you to taste their small lot wines, picnic, explore the vineyard, and enjoy the panoramic views from their hilltop tasting room. 

The Beginning

Jim and Ginger McGrail planted the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in 1999 and originally sold all fruit to Steven Kent Winery. In 2003, the McGrail family along with the help of Rhonda Wood made a barrel to enjoy with friends and family. The following vintage one barrel turned into five, and by 2005 the McGrail’s started production on 1,000 cases of wine.

By the end of 2005, the McGrail’s decided to venture into the production side of the wine business and started planning for a winery. After almost three years, Jim and Ginger, asked their daughter, Heather, to move back to the Bay Area to help them open the winery and tasting room. Together they finished the estate tasting room and winery and celebrated their Grand Opening in April, 2008. Jim, Ginger, and Heather worked as a team to produce the wine and open their doors to let guests taste their “one” wine, the 2005 McGrail Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. In 2009, their daughter-in-law, Rachel McGrail, joined the business.

Growing the Team with Industry Veteran, Mark Clarin

In September 2009, the McGrail’s hired Mark Clarin as their winemaker. Mark previously consulted with the McGrail Family, but as Heather’s family was expanding, the need for a true winemaker was immediate.  With his experience and ability to produce world class wines the McGrail’s were thrilled to have him join the team.

Less is more. Start with good grapes and don’t mess it up. And then at the end of the day, I make wines, I like to drink.

Mark Clarin, McGrail Vineyards Winemaker

The Award that Changed Everything

In 2012, the McGrail Cabernet Reserve won the Best Red Wine in the United States with the SF Chronicle Wine Competition! This award catapulted the winery and confirmed the notion that McGrail was focused on award winning Cabernets.

As the winery grew, so did the McGrail family. With 8 grandchildren, Jim and Ginger McGrail, were excited to share their passion for farming and wine with their family. In 2016, we purchased an additional 30 acres less than a mile from our Estate property. There were ten acres planted and we planted another twelve.

2018 was a rough year, as the McGrail family lost their Patriarch, Jim McGrail, but the family is carrying on Jim’s traditions and passion for family, friends, and great wine! 

As the tradition carries on the McGrail Family was excited for the first full vintage from their new Lucky 8 Vineyard, located on Tesla Road in 2020. While 2020 didn’t go as planned, we have persevered, remained healthy, hopeful, and excited for the future.