The MAHA Estate is on the cusp of the fabled Willow Creek and Adelaida Districts. Our estate’s compelling history – from harboring whale-birthing grounds, to the lasting limestone seabed – contributes to some of the most alluring wines. Evidence of this bygone era, from 14 million years prior, endures in the form of whale fossils that dot our land and an abundant limestone understory. Limestone is rare in California; the west side of Paso Robles and Templeton contain the state’s largest exposed limestone layer. This coveted foundation, including the one the MAHA resides upon, lends a similar environ to the finest wine regions on the planet. It also allows for naturally enduring vines. Calcareous soils have exceptional water retention without over-saturation. This mitigates the need for irrigation, even during drought years. Instead, grapevine roots are encouraged to penetrate the soil in search of water and micronutrients. These roots will grow deeper throughout the life of the vine. Soils rich in calcium help maintain acidity in grapes late into the growing season, and contribute significantly to the energy and purity of the wines. The aging potential of wines grown in limestone is nothing short of remarkable. We are fortunate to farm our land on this ancient platform that is profuse in archeological history and unlimited in potential.
We are loyal to our natural surroundings and seek to understand them rather than control them. We treat our farm like the living, breathing organism that it is: sixty acres (24.25 ha) surrounded by oak forests and chaparral, fed by mountain springs and seasonal creeks, and teaming with wildlife; a majestic property that rises in elevation from 1500 ft to 1800 ft (450 m to 550 m) above sea level, and feels the subtle sway of the ocean’s influence 14 miles (22.5 km) away.
Grenache is the mainstay of the MAHA Estate. We began walking west Paso Robles Grenache vineyards in 2001, when it became evident this grape belongs on these west side, limestone slopes. Here at MAHA, Grenache gracefully thrives in synchronicity with our natural surroundings. Carignan, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Clairette and Roussanne each play an eloquent, supporting role in our wines. Taking a cue from those who have been farming Grenache and Carignan for hundreds of years – Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas and Priorat – we head prune our vineyard rather than trellis. As harvest nears and the sun intensifies, leaves on the head pruned canes provide natural shading to ripen the grapes, uniformly, to their fullest potential.
Our taste buds informed us early on that the very best wines are grown without chemical herbicides and pesticides, and are irrigated only by rainfall. We feed the soil and vines with natural farm-made inputs, consisting of microorganism cocktails, herbal teas, and compost teas. The cadence of our surroundings, including the sun, moon, planets and stars, assist in the timing of our farming and winery practices. A healthy cover crop is permitted to flower, feeding the bees and insects. Vine rows are mown down in late spring, providing mulch during the growing season; decomposition then nourishes surface roots. We often refrain from irrigation, encouraging vines to dig deeper in search of water and nutrients. Though much of the magic happens well below the earth’s surface, it is governed harmoniously by the gentle rhythms of the universe.
We steward the land by embracing biodiversity. Our flock of sheep roams the vineyard in winter and spring, until buds break, nibbling on grass and fertilizing as they go. Our three Anatolian-Pyrenees protect the sheep from mountain lions and coyotes, and safeguard the grapes from birds and ground squirrels. Chickens, pigs and goats rotate through our pastures, bringing balance to the soil and surroundings. We facilitate the existence of diverse flora and fauna in service of our wines.