Monte Rio Cellars is a collaboration between longtime friends Patrick Cappiello and Pax Mahle. Following a successful career as a sommelier and restaurant owner in New York City, Patrick set his sights on the West Coast to make wine. He launched Monte Rio Cellars with the help of his buddy and highly-respected winemaker, Pax.
Patrick and Pax’s philosophy is to make hand-crafted wines in the spirit of old California. With this idea in mind, they work with familyowned, organically farmed vineyards and keep the winemaking simple. Spontaneous fermentations take place with whole cluster grapes in stainless steel and concrete, and aging takes place in neutral oak barrels. The goal is to make moderate alcohol, higher acid, fresh wines, naturally.
As a restaurant buyer and young consumer Patrick was always frustrated by the lack of affordable, honest wines from California. Monte Rio Cellars is his answer to that, and another step for California towards the new direction of balanced, food-friendly wines for the people!
Monte Rio Wines at Corners
MONTE RIO CHARDONNAY, MENDOCINO CO., 2020
Previous vintage earned 91 points from VINOUS. Whole cluster fruit from Hawkeye vineyard was hand harvested directly to the press. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tank with natural yeast fermentation. The wine was aged in old wood barrels for 5 months, then transferred to stainless steel for 2 months. ORGANIC. Only 250 cases produced.
MONTE RIO DRY WHITE ZINFANDEL, LODI, 2019
Vinified bone dry, this thirst-quenching bottle shows flavors of tart cherries and strawberry jam, leading to a long-lasting finish. This ain’t your grandma’s white zinfandel!
MONTE RIO COFERMENT, LODI, 2019
Whole cluster fruit (50% petit verdot and 50% sauvignon blanc) was hand harvested and fermented by carbonic maceration in stainless steel for 10 days. The must was then pressed and fermentation finished in stainless steel, followed by aging in old wood barrels for 5 months. ORGANIC. Only 200 cases produced.
MONTE RIO MISSION, LODI, 2019
Fruit from 80 year old mission vines in Somers Vineyard underwent 100% whole cluster carbonic maceration with natural yeast for 10 days in stainless steel. The must was then pressed into a combination of concrete and stainless steel tanks for 7 days. The wine was then aged in old wood barrels for 6 months. No sulfur was used in the winemaking. ORGANIC. Only 380 cases produced.
MONTE RIO PETITE SIRAH, LODI, 2019
93 points from VINOUS: The 2019 Petite Sirah . . . is done with 100% whole clusters. Inky dark fruit, lavender, sage, mint and soaring floral notes infuse the 2019 with striking layers of nuance. Deep and rich, yet light on its feet, the 2019 has a lot going on. Today, it is decidedly exotic, but at the same time, the tannins – always an issue with petite – are already pretty tamed.
MONTE RIO OLD VINE ZINFANDEL, LODI, 2019
92 points from VINOUS: The 2019 Zinfandel Old Vine emerges from site in Lodi planted in the 1930s. Pliant, supple and racy, with tons of depth and varietal character, the 2019 is so full of personality and character. This is such a compelling expression of Lodi Zinfandel.
MONTE RIO SKULL RED, CALIFORNIA, 2019
Petite sirah, mission, and zinfandel underwent 100% whole cluster carbonic maceration with natural yeast for 6-10 days in stainless steel. The must was then pressed into a mix of concrete and stainless steel for 8-12 days, after which the wine was aged in old wood barrels for 10 months. No sulfur used in the winemaking. ORGANIC. Only 675 cases produced.
More about Patrick Cappiello
Patrick Cappiello got his start in restaurants, starting his wine career in 2002 as a Sommelier at Tribeca Grill. As time progressed his roles changed to Wine Director and restaurant owner over the next 15 years. Through connections with countless winemakers and after meeting his current business partner Pax Mahle, the transition to Winemaker was a natural progression for Cappiello. He still serves as Wine Director of Walnut Street Café in Philadelphia. He is Food & Wine host for Playboy and founding member of Winemakers & Sommeliers for California Wildfire Relief.
His 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, and sommelier career has given him access to four of the worlds greatest wine cellars. All have been recipients of Wine Spectators “Grand Award”; TriBeCa Grill, Veritas, GILT, and Pearl & Ash. Mr. Cappiello was named “Sommelier of the Year 2014” by Food & Wine Magazine, “Wine Person of the Year 2014” by Imbibe Magazine, and “Sommelier of the Year 2015” by Eater National.
More about Pax Mahle
Pax and Pam Mahle moved to wine country in 1997 to pursue careers in wine. After a few years of tasting wine from all over California for Dean & Deluca, Pax decided to start his own brand from a vineyard with which he felt a kismet connection. That vineyard was Alder Springs, and after finding an investor to help realize the dream, Pax Wine Cellars was launched in 2000.
Location, soil, exposition, dedicated growers, plant material and sustainability are all important factors that affect their decision. The goal with the chosen vineyards is simple: harvest ripe, healthy grapes, with balanced acids and sugars, which require no additions from the winery. The commitment to these vineyards is to learn from them every year, to make improvements in how the fruit is handled in order for it to express its uniqueness, and most importantly how growing vines are handled, year after year, to enable them to do just that.