McGah Family Cellars
Napa Valley AVA
Producing wines simply for the love and pleasure of doing it
It is nice to have multi-generational families within the California wine industry, but the fact that McGah Family Cellars is in its fifth generation makes it somewhat unique.
The family tree begins with E.W. McGah, an Irishman who was best known as one of the founding partners of the professional football team, the Oakland Raiders. When he died in 1983, E.W.’s interest passed on to his son, E.J. McGah, and then to his grandson Sherratt Reichter after E.J.’s passing in 2002. The elder McGahs’ fortunes had been initially made in home construction with literally thousands of home sites located in the beautiful Napa Valley. The intimacy and verdant nature of their surroundings rubbed off on them and their successors.
“We all loved Napa Valley and its surroundings,” recalled Reichter, 41, in a recent interview. “We are Irish to the bone and the Irish believe that land ownership is a key to happiness. In 1990, the family bought some land along the Silverado Trail in the Eastern part of Napa Valley that quickly became a place for our family gatherings. My own family enjoyed the surroundings to the point that we actually moved up to Napa from the Los Angeles area. We built homes on our property and that was where everyone gathered for events.” The McGah Family Vineyards are actually two separate parcels of land that total around 64 acres. They are located in prime locations and their production has been sold to leading wineries for a number of years. The estate consists of two neighboring properties spanning from the Silverado Trail on the East to Conn Creek on the West. The soils from this upper east-side bench are a mix of red and brown gravelly loam with excellent drainage. The appellation is actually Rutherford, and part of the esteemed Rutherford Bench growing area.
The year 2006 saw the introduction of the McGah Family Cellars, a tiny production of only 250 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Needless to say, with the vineyard pedigree of the fruit and the guidance of experienced winemaker Mike Smith, the wines were warmly received by both the wine industry press and consumers alike. Today’s McGah Family Cellars’ annual production stands around 1,000 cases, a level with which owner Sherratt Reichter is perfectly comfortable.
“We are interested in slow growth for our company,” he explained. “Even though we have the capacity to become much larger, we want to remain a small, boutique winery. We love what we are doing and we simply want to do everything right.” Since the operation of McGah Family Cellars is a family thing, it was natural that 10-year-old Scarlett Reichter became the label paradigm for the family’s leading wine.
“She’s a natural,” exclaimed Sherratt Reichter proudly. “My daughter’s always around the vineyards and takes great pride in the fact that the wine is named after her. I think she might just be the family member that becomes part of the business when she grows up. That would make all of our family extremely happy.”
Was the initial success of the wines a surprise to Sherratt Reichter?
“Not really,” he added. “We knew what we had when my grandfather made the initial investment. Anyone who starts with great fruit simply needs to control it through its production time. We all feel our success is a great blessing and are dedicated to continuing to achieve its high quality level.”
McGah Family Cellars now contains a guest house on their vineyards that provides a bucolic setting for wine tastings and the like. The facilities are available on a reservations-only basis, and are well worth the time spent. McGah Family Cellars is also unique in the fact that it is one of the few wineries in existence that produces its wines simply for the love and pleasure of doing it. Its owners are a dedicated group of people that have developed their product in a manner that almost assures it of continued success.
“Not that we don’t want to make money with our winery,” Reichter concluded. “But there are other important considerations to consider. Our family considers McGah Family Cellars as a vehicle with which we can give back something in light of all that has been given to our family. It is as simple as that.” McGah Family Cellars is a rarity among California wineries that should be appreciated for its efforts. Would that more wineries adopt similar viewpoints regarding their activities. The wine world greatly benefit from such heartfelt gestures.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
20 years ago when my grandfather purchased 65 acres of vineyard property in Rutherford, we had no idea where we’d be today! What began as a modest farming venture has evolved into something my family and I take great pride in. In addition to growing grapes for some of the best young boutique winemakers and brands in the Napa Valley, we produced two exceptional labels of our own.
Our wines reflect our core business philosophy of providing exceptional wines at an exceptional value. Under the guidance of our talented winemaker, Mike Smith, and expert vineyard manager, Jeff Roberts, we craft these limited production single vineyard estate wines that truly showcase the terrior of our eastern site in Rutherford.
Our vision is to create wine that is elegant in structure and balance and consistent in quality vintage after vintage. Our guiding principle is that making ultra-premium estate wine has always been an art driven by passion – yet we have never forgotten that wine is meant, quite simply, to be enjoyed!
McGah Family Cellars