El Dorado AVA
An award-winning boutique winery makes a move from the Santa Lucia Highlands to the up-and-coming region of El Dorado County, opening up an array of viticulture and winemaking possibilities.
Founded in 2009 by winemaker Mica Raas, Myka Cellars was originally intended to spotlight Raas' love for the Santa Lucia Highlands wine growing region, from which he hails. The winery focused exclusively on cool-climate loving varietals from small, sustainably farmed vineyards in and around the Monterey Bay and found much success in the region. Myka Cellars' home was in Santa Cruz, in a winery space that also functioned as a winery cooperative production facility called "The Winemaker's Studio," where Mica Raas worked to help other fledgling winemakers achieve their dreams of winemaking on a smaller, craft-based scale. Many of his wines were earning medals and ratings, which certainly validated his efforts.
"To make a beautiful wine, one has to understand the place and its people," believes winemaker Mica Raas. "It's so important to work side by side with the crews, moving the barrels, touching the wine physically and monitoring its maturation with all five senses. To craft a truly great wine in our age, one must take advantage of contemporary technology and combine it with traditional know-how."
Mica Raas' education and career history has given him a strong background in winemaking and viticultural knowledge, allowing him to blend modern techniques with a traditional winemaking foundation. Born and raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Raas is a graduate of Sonoma State University, with a degree in Geology and Environmental Studies, a minor in Botany, and an associate's degree in Wine and Viticulture. Raas' extensive work experience includes a stint at the Sonoma Port Works, as well as assisting in making large national brands like Charles Shaw Wine. He has also spent a good portion of his professional winemaking career teaching emerging winemakers the art of developing boutique wineries. His geology background provides him with extensive knowledge of the terroir and range of micro-climates available throughout California.
A few years ago, Mica Raas sold his Myka Cellars brand to Paul Haley and Jill Osur, owners of Goldline Brands - a boutique producer of fine wines located in California's Sierra Foothills. Raas agreed to move his operation to El Dorado and remain as winemaker for all of Goldline Brands' operations. He continues to source fruit from select sites the Santa Lucia Highlands, upholding the original vision of Myka Cellars. However, now with access to the wonderful diversity of microclimates the Sierra Foothills has to offer, Raas has been able to introduce new wines to the Myka Cellars line-up, showing off this much warmer wine growing region and the unique terroir of its vineyards. This AVA has flown under the radar of most viticulturists and winemakers for quite some time, but it is certainly starting to grow while producing countless award-winning wines. Mica Raas continues to earn incredible praise for his Myka Cellars wines and has proven to be a wonderful addition to the Goldline Brands team.
The Myka Cellars wine label, by the way, is a tribute to Mica Raas' colorful background as a geologist, farmer and botanist, telling the story of his relationship between dirt and wine.
There are plans to open a new tasting facility for Myka Cellars sometime in the next year in the area of El Dorado. Mica Raas sits poised to catch the newest wave in California winemaking and fulfill his dream of making approachable and unpretentious wine that effortlessly fits into daily life. We are proud to present this winery and special bottling to our Pinot Noir Wine Club members as well as our Gold Wine Club members!
Map of the area
Mica Raas - Winemaker | Owner
Mica Raasa is a 35-year-old native Californian that has often been considered an innovator in certain winemaking venues. Born and raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mica is also the owner of Myka Cellars. Raas is a graduate of Sonoma State University with a degree in Geology and Environmental Studies and also an associates degree in Wine and Viticulture. Raas has also spent a good part of his professional winemaking career teaching emerging winemakers the art of developing boutique wineries. His extensive work experience includes a stint at the Sonoma Port Works as well as assisting in making large national brands like Charles Shaw Wine. Mica Raas believes “that winemaking is very much an art and true perfection in winemaking can only be obtained by careful management of ‘microbial chaos.’” His wines have garnered national attention and a number of high scores and numerous competition medals. His geology background provides him with extensive knowledge of the terroir and range of micro-climates available throughout California. Myka Wines are a perfect for our Gold Wine of the Month Club members, being a boutique winery.
Jill Osur is a happy, contented wine executive.
Jill Osur took a somewhat circuitous path before finally arriving in the wine industry. The Patterson, New Jersey native was a standout softball player at UC Berkeley before an injury just prior to her senior year forced her retirement. Politics beckoned her after graduation and Osur spent a number of year pursuing the calling of political fundraising. A position with the Special Olympics Northern California and Nevada opened up and Jill Osur became the chief fund raiser for the nonprofit organization and raised over 150 million dollars over a fourteen-year career with that organization.
Sometime during college, she was bitten by the wine bug, a feeling that helped shape her present position as President of GoldLine Brands, the parent company of both Gold Wine Club selections. She built up a personal cellar stocked with wines she enjoyed drinking. “Bill Shahl (River Ranch Vineyards) was a winery owner that sat on my board for Special Olympics. He told me to find a wine I liked and buy more of it to drink. He also told me to experiment with new wines and keep an open mind whenever tasting something new.”
“It’s all about personal preference,” Osur related during a recent interview. “Bill became a close friend and reintroduced me to the wine world. I had always held the thought of owning a winery and I had been fortunate enough to purchase a number of fine wines at auction. Besides, I was always talking about wine without even realizing it.”
Osur’s chance for involvement in the wine industry began when she met Paul Haley, a Brit who was also an accountant. Haley was already in the food business and was familiar with the wine export business. The two teamed up and GoldLine Brands was formed.
“We both had visions of growing a company and sought out an area that we felt was underdeveloped. That area was the El Dorado AVA and the remainder of the Sierra Foothills AVA. When we met Mica and saw the exceptional wines he was making, we knew he could
really succeed with top grapes and modern equipment. He sold us his winery a few years ago and agreed to move his operation to El Dorado and remain as winemaker for all our operations. Thankfully, he has never looked back.”
Jill Osur is still learning about the wine business. Her company is producing more wine than it currently sells so she is involved in selling both fruit and finished wine. “Our growth is right on track with all our brands,” she confided. “But the reality of the wine business is that it takes a certain amount of time to reach the goals you set for yourselves. I’ve managed to put together a top marketing team that will assure our future success. With Mica’s penchant for winning medals and receiving top marks for his wine, our success seems to be right around the corner.”
Jill Osur seems a happy, contented wine executive. She is also quite busy but has accepted the challenges of establishing new wineries and new locales. She currently sits on the board for the John F. Kennedy University Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership and was named the Female Executive of the Year in Consumer Products for up to 2,500 Employees in 2012, and received the Bronze Stevie Award.
Osur is passionate about bringing the El Dorado AVA to premier growing status with the wines of her company. She faces an uphill battle from established production areas like Napa Valley, Sonoma and the suddenly popular Central Coast. She also wants to make the area “like Napa Valley was 35 years ago” with small wineries featured and a real experience of consumer/winemaker interaction. Since the area has no product restrictions, cheaper labor costs, superior dirt quality and no water restrictions, Osur’s vision and assessment seems entirely plausible. We salute this pioneering woman and her partners who seem destined for stardom. They seem well on their way to realizing their dream. "It is our pleasure to have our wines featured in the Gold Medal Wine of the Month Club. Cheers!"