Rock Star Winemaker: McPrice 'Mac' Myers

McPrice tends to his own garden

A wise man once said, “Creating a successful marriage is like farming: you have to start over again every morning.”
Winemaker McPrice “Mac” Myers knows this adage all too well. Each day he rises and goes dutifully to the vineyard planted to mostly Rhone varietals. His relationship with the grapes, like a good marriage, is symbiotic. He gives to the land. The land gives back.
However, the winemaker didn’t always have a plot of land to work with. Back in the early 2000s, he was a scrappy young man getting his feet wet in the wine industry. With the aim of making wine on his own terms, Myers joined with friend and fellow winemaker Russell From of Herman Story Winery to create Barrel 27 in Santa Maria. Together, they worked to source grapes from across the Central Coast region for their respective labels.
“My first vintage for my McPrice Myers label was in 2002. I made one wine, a Syrah, with grapes sourced from Larner Vineyard in Santa Barbara’s Ballard Canyon,” Myers said. “My philosophy is really ‘one foot in the Old World and one foot in the new.’”
In 2008, McPrice relocated Barrel 27 to a facility off Highway 46 East, but the winemaker still longed for an estate vineyard to call home. Finally, in 2014, he found a place to put down roots on the westside. The winemaker now leases a winery facility, tasting room, and vineyard — a big and welcome step forward. The 3525 Adelaida Road location is now a welcome home to McPrice Myers and Barrel 27 labels.
“The goal is to one day own the property,” Myers said. “Having your own vineyard is most peoples’ dream, and I’m right there alongside everybody else.”
That dream was born from his own tastebuds; the winemaker’s past life was chock full of trips to exotic wine regions and long, nuanced tastings. In other words: he was introduced to the world of wine sales before he ever got his hands dirty.
After exploring wineries and crush pads in Santa Barbara and Paso Robles, Myers got the idea that maybe he, too, could make the delicious wine he so happily consumed. This was back in ’97, before the Paso Robles wine explosion caught fire.
“It just sparked me; that’s where the seed was really planted,” Myers said. “I started educating myself and tried to drink as many cool wines as I could from all over the world.”
Myers is a curious guy, especially when it comes to flavor. Maybe that’s why he’s always been a great collaborator and grape-adventurer (he’s always seeking out the next best vineyard). Together with winemaker Patrick McNeil, he also works to source killer grapes for their shared label, Paydirt Wines.
Even with all of his various projects keeping his hands full, Myers is truly enjoying the experience of tending his own garden. The winemaker’s vineyard is currently planted to syrah, mourvedre, grenache, grenache blanc, viognier, and cabernet sauvignon.
“A lot of the vineyard is east and north facing, so that area is a little warmer, which provides wines with a little more freshness and vibrancy,” Myers said.
Although it may be a while before you can taste the fruit coming off his vineyard, you can still enjoy a McPrice Myers reserve flight at the tasting room.
“You can come in and taste through a whole bunch of single vineyard wines and get a cool little tasting of all the terroirs I source from side by side,” Myers said. “There’s a cool diversity to each vineyard.”
Over the past decade and a half, Myers has done more than garner high points from Robert Parker and the wine elite. He’s made his mark as a progressive, passionate, artisan obsessed with the intersection between Golden State and Old World sensibilities.
It’s working.
“I use a lot of traditional techniques. We don’t de-stem the fruit and do whole cluster fermentation, which adds a lot of savory notes and texture to the wines,” Myers said. “Yet, I still proudly embrace California for what it is, and we have a lot of sunshine. I’m not afraid to show off that sunshine or the ripeness of our fruit.”