Mayacamas Vineyards sold to Charles Banks & co

Bob and Elinor Travers bought Mayacamas Vineyards in 1968 when they were just 30 years old. Bob made the wines from the vineyards high above the floor of the Napa Valley ever since. John Gilman lauds Mayacamas for not succumbing to the “tides of fashion,” calling it “one of the greatest cabernet sauvignon producers in the history of California.”

So it is big news today that the Travers have sold the property. The new owners are Charles Banks and Jay Schottenstein and his son Joey. While the Schottenstein family fortune come from retailing, such as American Eagle and DSW, Charles Banks heads Terroir Selections, a group focused on acquiring vineyards around the world. Banks was a former co-owner of Screaming Eagle.

With investments Sandhi and Wind Gap, in particular but also Fable in South Africa, Banks has become a major underwriter of restraint and balance in the wine world. Asked via Twitter who will be making the wines at Mayacamas, Banks replied, “Andy Erickson in the winery and Annie Favia in the vineyards. me making sure we keep the style and respect Bob Travers legacy.”

In an article about their new Favia wines in 2010, the SF Chronicle wrote “It’s hard to imagine a more formidable wine duo than Andy Erickson and Annie Favia.” And as to the big buzzword of the day, Favia said in the story that “the goal is balance, balance in your wines and balance in your life.”

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8 Responses to “Mayacamas Vineyards sold to Charles Banks & co”

  1. I know Charles Banks. He is a terrific and very generous man. I am certain that he will maintain the great standards set by Bob Travers on this treasured parcel. I wish Bob and Elinor great happiness in the next stage of their lives.

  2. […] Wine Business reports that “the historic Mayacamas Vineyards, located near the top of Mount Veeder in the Napa Valley, has been acquired by Charles and Ali Banks. Tyler Colman has more.  […]

  3. any hint on price?

    And did Mayacamas own all of their vineyards? Bella Oaks, Trailside and Martha’s?

    FYI, shameless plug, we will be pouring the 2005 Martha’s at our annual portfolio tasting. Should make for good conversation.

  4. Glad you approve, Jack. It does seem like a good transition.

    Daniel – I haven’t heard any word on price or which precise vineyards were included. Here’s some more from the press release:

    “We partnered with the Schottensteins because they are dedicated to preserving historic properties. They understand the sensitivity and hard work necessary to undertake projects such as these. We’re long-time friends and the thought of rebuilding Mayacamas with them is enormously exciting and rewarding,” says Banks…

    “It’s our intention to respect this historic property, while rehabilitating the vineyards and winery; a process that will need to be undertaken in order to restore Mayacamas to its original celebrated state,” says Banks, who first “fell in love with Mayacamas about 15 years ago, when I had a magnum of the 1970. It’s still one of the greatest Napa Valley Cabernets I have ever tasted.”

  5. Dan, Charles never releases financial information. He made this statement today on Wine Berserkers:
    “I thought it might be helpful to address some of these concerns. First of all, i enjoy all types of wines as im sure most of you do. we make wine in many places and many styles, so please dont be concerned that we are going to make the mistake of trying to make screaming eagle at mayacamas. not happening. we will stick to making balanced mountain cabernets (and chardonnay) with the finesse and power that made mayacamas famous. we will improve the facilities and the process, but not change the style of wine.

    andy Erickson. i trust andy to help me improve the process and focus on making better and better wines over the long term. he is certainly mature enough and intellectual enough to make more than one style of wine. he completely understands the importance of terroir and has been blown away by what mayacamas has to offer. he has spent some time with Bob Travers (and Bob is happy with Andy) and Bob has committed to help Andy in this transition.

    we are NOT replanting the entire vineyard. only a few acres per year over the next decade. there are a few blocks that are mostly dead or very diseased, so they need to come out. we want to do it slowly so we can learn as much as possible before we make decisions. this is a lifetime project for us, so no need to rush.

    i have enjoyed drinking Mayacamas for years and i have no interest in being the jerk who screws it up, but there is certainly room for improvement! CB”

  6. Daniel, you are confusing Mayacamas with Heitz. Mayacamas does not do any single vineyard bottlings. But both are “old school” wineries, indeed.

    Jack: Unfortunately, Elinor passed a few years ago. Bob is remarried.

  7. Charles Banks told Alder that the holdings include 465 acres on Mount Veeder with 57 acres planted.

  8. My wife and I have loved Mayacamas Chardonnays and Cabernets ever since we first began drinking them in 1973. We enjoyed the two trips that we took to the winery and have bought several cases on-line over the years.

    I am always sorry to read the news of yet another of California’s old family owned wineries being sold to either a mega-conglomerate or some group of investors who care little about the wine and care a lot about their investment. This is because of what typically happens is that the new management “expands the Brand” by diluting the locally grown juice with thousands of gallons of Central Valley juice to jump the annual production from a few thousand cases to hundreds of thousands of cases so that it becomes available in every convenience store across the nation. I can easily think of 25 of these off of the top of my head.

    Let us hope that the new owners want to produce the current equivalents of the 1970 Mayacamas Cabernet and the 1972 Mayacamas Chardonnay and nothing less.


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