Many times in life, destiny chooses people and paths are created that require them to persevere and build something amazing. For Jake and Ben Fetzer, it would be the tragic and untimely passing of their father, Bobby, in 2006 that would lead to the creation of Masút Winery at such a young age. Masút is a Native American word meaning “dark, rich earth.”
The brothers are third generation growers as their grandfather, Barney Fetzer, founded the Fetzer Winery in 1968. Their father would purchase the Masút Ranch in 1994, which is the foundation for the winery today. “Our family came from humble roots and they are incredibly hard working. That legacy is definitely a part of what keeps me in the wine business,” noted Jake.
Determined to move forward, they would continue their father’s legacy, who had planted over 2,000 acres in Mendocino County. In fact, the brothers petitioned to set up a new viticultural area known as Eagle Peak within the high elevation terrain that encompasses over 26,000 acres. “It is a mountain climate, and the growing season tends to be a little shorter than other AVAs to the south. The elevation also tends to spare us from Spring frosts in the valleys,” said Jake, “We could walk from my house at the Fetzer home ranch through the mountains and by midday be sitting on top looking at the ocean in the distance.”
Jake and Ben would concentrate their efforts on crafting the perfect Pinot Noir. This was an uphill battle as there was a perception that Eagle Peak was not ideal for this grape. They had to prove it in the bottle. “We grow seven different clones of Pinot Noir, which we vinify separately. There are 17 blocks that are all unique in slope, soils and exposure,” said Jake, “We aren’t scientists, we just come up with blends we enjoy.”
The brothers compliment each other nicely in their skill sets. “My brother Ben and I have worked together since we were kids. He’s very mechanical and we call him the Bengineer,” said Jake. They roll up their sleeves and get it done as they are farmers at the heart of the matter.
Masút has had a strong run over the last decade by obtaining high scores as well as securing national distribution, which for a small producer is tough to achieve. “Our goal with the Masút brand is to continue to show the very best of the Eagle Peak appellation. We have released an Estate Chardonnay, and we will continue to refine winemaking,” said Jake, while continuing to focus on quality. Masút will be launching a new branch called Rural that will explore other varietals from non-estate grown organic and sustainable certified Mendocino fruit.
The old adage, “You can’t make great wine from bad grapes” truly reinforces the traditional quality approach the Fetzer brothers apply to their old-school vineyard management practices and to the land as they progress ahead into a bright future.
2016 PINOT NOIR
A dark cherry red in color with a little bit of vanilla on the nose and some spices on the back. A lot of dark fruit flavors coming forward on this high elevation wine which is barreled in 32% new French Oak for twelve months. At 14.5% ABV, this Estate grown wine is a more fruit forward Pinot Noir, but maintains a sense of structure and balance.
This wine would go great with a baked Pacific Salmon with roasted garlic overlooking the ocean on an Autumn afternoon listening to the waves break and just enjoying life.