The Livermore Valley Luxury Wine Weekend is next month: March 24th – March 26th at the Purple Orchid Resort and Spa featuring McGrail Vineyards and Cuda Ridge Wines. This unique weekend experience was brought to life with the partnerships between Cuda Ridge, McGrail Vineyards, and Purple Orchid Resort and Spa. Our goal is to provide an extravagant wine experience highlighting quality wines from Livermore Valley and showcasing the amazing region we live in.
Livermore Valley is largely a day trip for visitors to the Livermore Valley wineries. “The Luxury Wine Weekend is our first attempt to show that Livermore Valley Wine Community is an ideal weekend destination spot for wine lovers”, says Heather McGrail. “We have something special here where the community of growers and vintners in Livermore Valley have created a place where you can find incredible wines and unique experiences with family style hospitality”. With our proximity to San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland we are the perfect weekend getaway. You get to leave the city and escape into a relaxing country lifestyle.
Livermore wineries have continued to raise the bar on quality year after year. The Livermore Valley Luxury Wine Weekend showcases several of our top-quality wines of the region and brings together the family style hospitality we are known for. “Livermore Valley had another great showing at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition winning 174 awards, with 79 of those being Gold, Double Gold, and Best of Class”, say Larry Dino. “And there is no better place to host the weekend experience than the Purple Orchid Resort and Spa, a Luxury Boutique Hotel in Livermore’s wine country”.
Details about the Weekend
This exclusive weekend includes a two-night stay at the Purple Orchid. Friday night reception with the winemakers and proprietors of McGrail Vineyards and Cuda Ridge Wines hosted at the resort. Off-site Vertical and Library tastings at each of the wineries. Lunch in the vineyards, wine dinner with LB Steak capped off by an evening of live music, and much more. This is an exclusive experience, you will not want to miss.
Contact the Purple Orchid Resort and Spa at (925) 606-8855 for more information and reservations.
Happy New Year! We are thankful for 2022—a year of incredible blessings, new friends, some sort of new normalcy, and wonderful memories that we won’t soon forget. As we take a moment to reflect on the past year, reminiscing on the hardships, the joyful moments, and everything in between, we remember how truly fortunate we are to have such supportive friends and family. All of us at McGrail Vineyards thank you for your enduring devotion and championship in 2022. We approach 2023, our fifteenth year, with the same enthusiasm and passion we’ve had throughout our journey and look forward to the new experiences it delivers.
Join us as we look back at the past year and remember a few of the great memories!
Table of Contents
From Chardonnay in our Sparkling program to Touriga Nacional in our Slainte, we harvested from August 15th to November 1st. Of our longest harvests in Mark’s 40+ years of Winemaking. Mark gives a full harvest recap HERE.
Wine Club Release Parties
We celebrated our fantastic members all year long with Release Parties in February, May, August and November for our Quarterly Members and in September for our Annual Members! The release parties were a favorite of ours as we got to catch up with our friends, enjoy live music, and taste the newest vintage of some of our favorite wines!
Wine Education Events and Classes
While we love all things wine, we also LOVE learning more about the intricacies of wine, wine with food, wine with music, and wine with fitness. Some of our favorite events are the classes we host with our local friends that include cheese and wine pairings, cheeseboard making classes, chocolate truffles and wine, and fitness classes that are savored with wine following! When we aren’t pairing the wine, we love to see how the wine ages by offering comparative tastings of multiple vintages.
The views from the top of the Greenville hill are breathtaking. Whether you are tasting from the patio or picnicking on the front lawn, you can’t help but enjoy those beautiful views. As the sunsets in the west, the views become even more spectacular and make our Sunset concerts some of the very best events we offer. In 2022, we offered several concerts from our local live musicians as well as a few larger names including Pasquale, the Italian tenor.
We are truly honored to have received so many awards in 2022. Our wines have continued to grow and evolve and we have been fortunate enough to received some third party endorsements with many of our wines. Here’s a few of our favorites!
As we celebrate the past year, we are so blessed to have each and every one of our customers in our lives! From the tasting room to the crush pad, the people we have met through the winery, make it the very best! We look forward to a fantastic 2023 and look forward to many great memories to come!
We are thrilled to welcome our Holy McGrail Wine Club Members to our brand new lounge, located in the barrel room at McGrail Vineyards.
Holy McGrail Wine Club Members
The Members Lounge has been updated with farm-style tables for you and your family to enjoy McGrail wines
Members Lounge is open to Wine Club Members and up to 5 guests at any given time. Our farm tables are communal and available first come, first serve. Please note that the Lounge is setup to enjoy wine by the glass or bottle.
For wine tasting, please book a reservation on the patio or taste at our front bar before or after enjoying the lounge.
Our members lounge is located in our barrel room and is open on non-event, weekend days. We have communal seating at farm tables available on a first come, first serve basis. This room is open to Holy McGrail Wine Club Members. We do not make reservations for this room as it is designed for those on property before or after their tastings. Please make sure to book a tasting on the patio or at the front bar before or after you enjoy the lounge. While we love your furry friends, only service animals are allowed. Children are welcome to join their parents in the members lounge, but must remain seated.
Heather McGrail shares our February release wines from the Livermore Valley!
Winter Wines getting us through the Cold!
As the temperatures are cool, picking up a nice glass of Cabernet warms you from the inside out. In February we release three Cabernets and our Cabernet based Rosé that is definitely a fan favorite!
Kylie Ryan Rosé
Named after my oldest daughter, Kylie Ryan, the Rosé is refreshing, easy sipping, and a great wine to pair with all kinds of food! Our 2022 Kylie Ryan Rosé was fermented in both stainless steel and experienced red wine barrels, with about 10% fermented in oak and the remaining 90% fermented in stainless steel. A complex wine with a bouquet of raspberries, clover honey, green apple and watermelon jolly rancher. The palate is light and bright with notes of lemon verbena, hint of strawberry, and a cherry candy finish. This wine is fermented bone dry and pairs nicely with a meal or poolside! Pair with chicken and waffles, garden salad with oranges and beets, or a pulled pork slider with apple and mango slaw. This is a red wine lover’s rosé.
C. Tarantino Cabernet Sauvignon
Our 2020 C. Tarantino Cabernet is a beautiful garnet red. This wine opens with boysenberry taking the lead and aromas of bright cherry, black plum, cassis, and violet following. The palate is layered with boysenberry, cassis, cigar box notes, and butterscotch. The wine finishes with a hint of anise and the wine is beautifully blanched with great acidity and tannins. This wine is the most drinkable now and will continue to age well. Pair this with BBQ pork nachos and pickled onions, pulled pork sandwich, or a delicious pot roast.
Timeless Cabernet Sauvignon
Our Timeless Cabernet is dark burgundy red. A rustic wine with a bouquet of cherry, blackberry, vanilla, and chanterelle mushrooms. Hints of black pepper and vanilla linger with cassis and sweet night jasmine. The palate is complex with plum, tobacco leaf, and spiced nutmeg married with the dark fruit notes of blackberry and cherry. The finish is long with dark roasted coffee notes. This wine pairs nicely with steamed dumplings with a ginger hoisin sauce, grilled chicken with a black mole sauce, or roasted duck.
A Jó Élet – The Good Life Cabernet Sauvignon
Our A Jó Élet, The Good Life Cabernet, is a deep, dark burgundy red. This elegant California Cabernet offers bold and ripe aromas of cherry, red plum, blackberry compote, baking spices all with a subtle hint of sweet roses. The fruit is balanced by earthy characteristics including black pepper, oregano, thyme, and winter baking spices. As this wine opens, the complexity of flavors arise and the ripe fruit is complemented with cocoa, dried tea leaves, fennel, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla. The tannins are bold and leave an exceptionally long finish with luscious, mouth-coating tannins. Pair this wine with brisket based beef bourguignon, hanger steak and asparagus, or meatballs.
Heather McGrail shares our newest released wines all from the Livermore Valley!
Our Family Release
We are so excited to share the family series of wines with you. Each of these wines are named after grandkids, besides the James Vincent, which is named after my Father, the co-founder. We hope you enjoys these as much as we do.
Charlie Rae Chardonnay
A favorite of mine! The Charlie Rae Chardonnay is named after my sweet and spunky niece, Charlotte Rae. The California style Chardonnay is rich, creamy, buttery, but balanced by bright fruit. This wine stands alone, but I recently enjoyed it with baked brie wrapped in phyllo dough, apple slices, and candied walnuts.
Austin James Cabernet Sauvignon
Charlie’s older brother is Austin James and he is the 2nd oldest Grandson in the family. This fruit driven Cabernet has black cherry, boysenberry, and blackberry. The fruit elegantly blends with the milk chocolate and vanilla notes and is decadent! I recently paired this with the most delicious Chocolate Cherry brownies, try this one!
Chocolate Cherry Brownies paired with Austin James Cabernet
Cook time: 40 min
½ Cup Unsalted Butter
1 ¼ Cups Sugar
1 tbs Canola Oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
½ Cup Flour
½ Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs Cornstarch
¼ Tsp. Salt
1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Frozen pitted cherries
A handful of fresh cherries
1. Preheat oven to 350°F & line a 9 x 9-inch square pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, and sugar with a hand mixer on high until the mixture is smooth. Next, add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix all together.
3. Add flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt and mix again until well-combined, making sure your batter is smooth and free of clumps.
4. Fold in your chocolate chips and frozen cherries *Reserve a handful of each to add on top
5. Use a spatula to transfer the batter into your lined pan, smoothing it out to spread the batter evenly throughout the pan. Place reserved cherries, fresh cherries, and chocolate chips on top
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Pair with our 2020 Austin James Cabernet! Enjoy!
Shamus Patrick Red Blend
Shamus Patrick is named after the oldest grandson. This Bordeaux style blend is a gem! Perfect food pairing wine that starts with purple fruit notes such as plum and blackberries. Rose petal, sandalwood, and mulled wine spices are all evident if you have the patience to allow this complex wine to open up. I love to pair the Shamus Patrick with fettuccine pasta with beef and mushroom ragout!
James Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon
The James Vincent is named after my later father, Jim McGrail. This was the first vintage after his passing and I truly believe he had a hand in it from up above. It is one of my favorite vintages, elegant, bold, and velvety tannins. This wine opens with dark cherry, cassis, violet and vanilla. As the wine opens a bit you get more complex flavors and the toasty notes start to shine. Year after year, James Vincent continues to be one of our favorite wines! Pair this wine with a delicious filet mignon or a ribeye steak.
Winemaker, Mark Clarin, shares an insiders view of the 2022 Grape Harvest in the Livermore Valley!
The 2022 vintage has been a classically different vintage from the other 43 I have lived through. I had hopes in January and the preceding December of having a decent rainfall year, but February came along and dried out and this trend continued through spring and into summer. We managed a few classic April showers but that didn’t really make up for the deficit. Then, we had frost after bud break on the Lucky 8 Vineyard which affected primarily the Grenache Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
The growing season was warm but not really hot for the most part. And then, Labor Day weekend showed up with a heat spell that broke records. We hit 114 degrees in Livermore and had about 5 days of extreme heat. In a matter of a few days, vines that normally ripen over several weeks, were ripe and ready to go. And, the vines that were behind, began stalling out.
Heat wave ends, rain follows
As the heat wave ended, things seemed to be going back to normal, and then we had a rain and hail storm September 18-20th. Fortunately, our two vineyard properties managed to miss the hailstorm and the weather finally mellowed out. With the weather normalizing, it gave us a little break between the early and late ripeners and allowed us to wrap up the last ¼ of our vines calmly for one of the craziest vintages I have seen! Even though September proved to be challenging in the vineyard, the fruit is tasting delicious.
CBS came by for a visit and had a quick interview with our team picking. Check out the interview HERE
9-19-22 The weather cooled down and we actually have rain for the past two days. We harvested most of the Estate Cabernet before the rain and will finish on the 21st. The rain and cool weather have helped us keep the fruit from drying up. At this point, it seems as though we will finish harvest by the end of the following week.
9-21-22 We had a crazy scare last night as we were heading out to pick the last of the estate vineyard. I was at home cooking dinner and a torrential rain cell came through my neighborhood. I panicked and called my viticulture partner and we raced out to the vineyard to halt the picking. By miracle, the vineyard was dry and in great condition for harvesting. We processed the fruit from there and the clone 30 from lucky 8. I think Jim was watching out for us.
9-26-22 I checked the remaining vineyards as we were scheduled for Wednesday harvest on a couple blocks. I called it off. The cool weather and the rain from the prior week seems to have put those blocks back to “normal”. We will continue to pump over our fermenters and possibly press some before the next harvest day.
10-5-22. We started pressing off our Cabernet fermenters this week. The wines are spectacular with intense color and flavors. The vineyard continues to progress at an excruciatingly slow pace. So, we are taking advantage of the situation to get a head start on barreling down wines.
10-19-22 The tale of the 2022 vintage is the continued struggle to get pickers, so we organized our own group of pickers utilizing tasting room staff and family members. This turned out to be the hottest day of October hitting 95F. I thought I was going to die and am in awe of the professionals that do this everyday. It took us until 1:30pm to pick a whopping 1.3 tons. I think there were 6 of us to start and 4 for the duration. Not ideal but we managed.
10-20-22 Heather rallied about 15 people for pick day 2 and we picked 2 tons before noon. Things are looking up. We just might finish harvest yet. Only about 25 tons to go. Oh my! We really are so fortunate for our great community. We had wine club members, tasting room team members, friends, neighbors all show up to pitch in and help.
10-21-22 We filled barrels with our Cabernet that we pressed last week. In the meantime, we are continuing our sampling of the vineyard and coordinating the next harvest dates.
10-23-22 I’m starting to feel like we will never be done with this crush. We pressed off the Touriga and Souzao grapes and put that to barrel on the 24th. On Wednesday we had about 15 people in the vineyard to pick the Petit Verdot form Lucky 8 and I also found pickers to pick the Merlot, Malbec and Cab Franc from Lucky 8 on Thursday the 27th.
10-28-22 PICAZO Merlot came in on Friday leaving 2 blocks to go and now I feel like we are going to make it. As my friend and colleague Randall Grahm told me when I went to work for him; “with winemaking we are in a constant state of flux”.
10-31-22 It’s Halloween and I reminisce about being finished with harvest in years gone by. We harvested 4.4 tons from the C. Tarantino Vineyard today. All in all a beautiful day and we were finished long before donning our masks and costumes for the evening’s festivities.
11-1-22 LAST DAY of harvest 2022. We harvested 17.25 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 15 from the Lucky 8 property. The vintage has presented many challenges so far, with hot weeks, cold weeks, rainy weeks and cool months. Of course the last day has to start out warm, switch to cold and windy and then dump a bunch of water on our heads. Except we were able to pivot and move the sorting equipment into the building, out of the rain and reasonably dry. We started harvesting at 4:30 am and wrapped up the processing by 5pm. I was waiting for brix and color. We got 25.4 brix coming in. I’ll let you know how it colors up but I’m confident.
A Tale of Two Vintages – 2022
We managed to still have great phenolics, good acid, and we are optimistic about 2022’s harvest. The yields on a few varietals are light, but the quality is present. 2022 Grape Harvest in the Livermore Valley is like none other.
With strawberry being the overwhelming flavor on the palate for most vintages of our Rosé, I thought it was about time to incorporate actual strawberries into one of my Rosé pairings. That strawberry component was even more noticeable for me in this new 2020 vintage than it’s ever been! The composition of our newest Rosé varies drastically from that of years past, but it somehow is very reminiscent of our recent vintages. To be exact, our 2020 Rosé is 59.74% Merlot, 28.76% Malbec, 7.5% Grenache Blanc, and 5% Sauvignon Blanc; this is pretty different to our all-red 2019 and 2018 vintages, which were three equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec. Adding those extra bits of Grenache Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc will inevitably incorporate gorgeous tropical fruit and herbal notes, which coincide with the basil and balsamic in this strawberry basil chicken dish. Overall, it’s an elegant and delightful pairing.
This recipe is so simple and easy to make, but so refreshing in the way that it’s actually a phenomenal pairing and full of amazing flavor. Fresh arugula, herbs, parmesan, and Meyer lemon are classic Italian ingredients that can truly bring a dish to life. With just minimal ingredients, this beef tagliata dinner can bring out the best of our Timeless Cab. Speaking of “the best,” our Timeless is actually the best of our favorite vintages from our estate property. The Lot 567 version is a combination of our 2015, 2016, and 2017 estate Cabernet Sauvignon all blended into one bottle. It’s fantastic!
Take steaks out of refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
Heat grill on medium.
In a food processor, combine garlic, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and thyme. Process until broken down into paste.
Liberally season steaks with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Using a basting brush, evenly coat steaks in herb paste.
Grill steak for three minutes on each side, then another three minutes on each side (a total of 12 minutes per steak and 6 minutes per each side of steak). This is how I grill a steak that has a medium thickness to achieve a medium-rare doneness. Steaks can be cooked for a longer or shorter amount of time to achieve desired doneness. Allow steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting.
Place two cups arugula on two plates. Sprinkle half of your parmesan on each. Mix together your lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl, then drizzle half on each plate. Season your salad with salt and pepper to taste.
Once steak has rested, slice into 1/2″ pieces. Place each steak on each plate.
Enjoy salad alongside a couple glasses of McGrail Timeless Cab!
Please let us know if you end up making these pairings and if you have any feedback! We’d love to hear it.
This mini beef Wellington pairing suggestion was made by Heather McGrail as we tasted the new release wines for our February 2021 quarter. Heather, who was on a low-carb diet at the time was craving beef Wellington, which is how this pairing came to fruition. I have to say, it’s a fabulous pairing. The umami of the mustard, mushroom, and shallot match the heartiness of “the Good Life’s” palate, while the fat in the filet mignon and the puff pastry tames the tannins in the wine. It’s practically a perfect pairing.
pink Himalayan sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and garlic powder to taste
2 16 oz. cuts filet mignon
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 flaky pastry circles (net wt. 16 oz.), about 9″ in diameter each
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
Remove filet from refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature.
Heat a medium-sized, non-stick pan on medium heat.
Add minced shallots and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add mushrooms and thyme. Cook until the majority of mushroom liquid has evaporated and mushroom mixture has browned slightly (about 7-10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Season filet with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
In the same pan used for mushroom mixture, heat olive oil on high heat. Once oil is hot, sear cuts of filet on both sides for about 1 minute for each side. Remove from heat. Allow to rest.
Brush each filet with dijon mustard.
Using a floured flat surface, lay out each puff pastry circle.
Take about half of the mushroom mixture and lay it out flat on the center of a puff pastry circle.
Place a filet in the center and fold flaps of pastry over the meat, like you would fold a burrito, so the meat is completely covered. Use your fingers to seal the pastry together.
Place on an oiled baking sheet with seam side on the bottom.
Repeat steps 9-11 with your second pastry circle and filet.
Optional: If you have extra puff pastry, use it to create fun designs to place on top of your pastry-covered filet. I used some pie crust cutter stamps that look like leaves and acorns on my beef Wellington.
In a small bowl, whisk and egg and water together to create egg wash.
Using a basting brush, brush egg wash onto puff pastry.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden-brown. Place on a plate, cover with foil, and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy with a bottle of our amazing A Jó Élet, or “the Good Life,” Cab!