Everything at Maysara has an intriguing Persian-American twist to it – from the name of the winery itself (‘House of Wine’) to the names of each of the wines hand-crafted there and the three daughters of founders Moe and Flora Momtazi, first generation immigrants who fled Iran and eventually found themselves in the US.
A civil engineer by trade trained in Arlington, Virginia, Moe and his family purchased these 532 acres near McMinnville in 1997 after living in something close to 23 states before settling in Oregon. They almost closed on a deal to purchase land next to nearby Domaine Serene, but seeing something special in this property, made an offer on the abandoned wheat farm instead. They began planting Dijon clone vines the year after that.
Their three daughters are firmly ensconced in this family enterprise – the eldest Tahmiene as the head winemaker (trained in Fermentation Sciences at Oregon State University with time at Kim Crawford’s Blenheim facility under her belt), Naseem in sales and marketing, and the youngest, Hanna working in sales and philanthropy.
I love that they even use the latter term intentionally in her title – and therein lies another clue as to how this family enterprise has managed to differentiate itself from others.
Maysara is truly stunning – still being built with materials sourced from their property save for the 11,000 wine barrels they kindly received as a result of an email sent out to other Willamette Valley wineries. The staves from these barrels are used on the walls of this inspired building. The trusses alone mark it as an engineering marvel.
They are finishing up some parts including the underground tasting room and then intend to turn their attention to developing the main gate. That’s a good thing as we whipped right by the first time around and we weren’t sure we were in the right place until we passed the oak grove and rounded a corner to come face to face with the imposing building. Initially google maps had us driving up over the back fields and through the vineyards (don’t worry, Hanna’s on it).
Our introduction continued over a passionate conversation with Hanna. There are only 7 wineries in the tiny McMinnville AVA and the sole reason we’d learned about this one is because it’s mentioned, not once in mere passing, but over two full paragraphs by Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy in their February 2013 book, American Wine (http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/books.html). There they are – on page 152. And again as ‘steady hands’ on page 149.
But, imagine this! Having your family’s personal story documented, your wines touted and your commitment to biodynamic practices lauded – yet not even know you’re in ‘The Book’.
The mind boggles. How is it possible?
When it became apparent to us that a) neither Hanna, Amy nor Moe knew Maysara had been included in this tome and b) they hadn’t heard of American Wine or either of its illustrious authors, the way we explained it was like this.
‘Look, Jancis Robinson is to international wine writing what Mick Jagger is to rock and roll, or what Wayne Gretzky is to hockey. If she has deigned to mention you, let’s just say you’re doing, um… rather well.’
They got it, even with the Canadiana thrown in there.
We tried everything available at the tasting room that day and purchased a Cyrus Pinot Noir (the Cyrus usually ranks 91 with Wine Advocate and their 2009 earned a 94 from Wine Spectator). We also picked up this light and fun Roseena Rosé to spirit across the border.
Clear and bright, pale salmon with light legs, on the nose it’s clear and youthful with medium minus intense aromas of rhubarb and green strawberry. The palate is dry with medium acidity and low tannin, medium minus alcohol and medium minus body. The medium intense flavours include more rhubarb alongside pomegranate, cranberry and more of that green strawberry with a slight touch of white pepper. It wraps up with a medium finish.
WSET ‘good’, it’s fun and light and went well with our steamed mussels, bread and cheeses.
We are already planning a return to McMinnville to see the progress of the building and front gate and to spend more time tasting and purchasing these wines.
Maysara is a winery with an inspiring story and a quality product to back themselves up with. Definitely it’s worth a stop while in the Willamette Valley.