In The Beginning
The Pahlmeyer story is a tale of international intrigue, passion and Hollywood stardom… Of Jayson Pahlmeyer, friends and family… Of French clones, legendary winemaking and iconic wines...
Once upon a time, there was a man with a bold, irrepressible spirit – a trial attorney called to the profession by its fast and furious nature.
While successful in his career, a hypnotic captivation with wine soon eclipsed his legal ambitions. He had an insatiable thirst for adventure and a certainty that Northern California (his native soil) held considerable winegrowing potential. Was it destiny that Jayson Pahlmeyer’s world was turned happily upside down? Who can say?
Following his dream Jayson partnered with the owner of a 55-acre site in south-east Napa Valley. The two shared a devotion to Jayson’s audacious dream of creating a “California Mouton,” and began imagining the vineyard’s potential. The key, they were sure, lay in planting the finest French clones of the red Bordeaux varieties - a considerable roadblock since importing clones is an international offense.
After months of sleuthing in elite French vineyards, Jayson sought the assistance of the venerable viticultural professors at the University of Bordeaux. The professors analyzed soil samples, exposure, rainfall and temperature data from the land and recommended the Californians grow corn.
Undaunted, and living on a shoestring, Jayson persevered until after three years the professors isolated the exact Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec vines with the greatest intensity, depth of flavor and character.
Jayson's partner smuggled their “suitcase clones” to the U.S. through Canada. All went off without a hitch until their final truckload, when the border authorities uncovered the French vines. Ordered to surrender all their contraband, they kept their French clones hidden and instead turned over to the unwitting patrollers clones purchased from U.C. Davis.
Planted in 1981, the French cuttings adjusted to their shock at a snail’s pace. Catching wind of these crazy guys and their Bordeaux vines, one of California’s foremost winemakers, Randy Dunn, visited the site and warned, “Don’t screw it up.” Clearly they didn’t because in 1986, seeing unparalleled promise, Randy asked to purchase the entire crop. Jayson agreed to sell most of the fruit - on one condition: that Randy make Jayson’s “Pahlmeyer” Red Napa Valley Bordeaux blend.