All I knew about Moraga Bel Air wines is that they were founded in 1989 and that the vineyards are indeed in Bel Air, California. When they offered to send me one of their whites and a red, and join in on a Zoom meeting with their new winemaker Paul Warson, it was a great chance for me – and you – to discover much more.
Learning More About Moraga
Great day for a Zoom meeting – said no one ever. But this one, where we didn’t have to brace the storms in Los Angeles of late to meet in person, was well worth it. The meeting was led by Moraga Bel Air winemaker Paul Warson, who joined the winery in 2021. Here are some of the things we found:
- Warson is a seasoned winemaker with roots at UC Davis. He has made wine in places such as Australia, Napa and the Central Coast. His longest tenure was with Foley and their Firestone property.
- Warson feels that Moraga is best experienced by visiting the winery, the cave and with a tasting. Marketing Director Philip Cavanagh explained that reserved tastings include four of their current releases as well as tastes from their cellar, accompanied with a cheese and charcuterie selection from the Beverly Hills Cheese Shop. Each tasting runs 90 minutes to two hours, can accommodate four and upwards of 150 guests in a corporate gathering. Reservations can be made via email with Philip@MoragaBelAir.com
- There will be a new second label coming out in the next month or so where 20% of the sales will be going to charity. The wines will be non-vintage and a made from a collection of Moraga grapes.
- If you check out their Facebook page you may see a few posts with photos of sheep grazing in the vineyard. Though the sheep are now gone, their work completed within about 14 days, they will be back. The vineyard is now experiencing bud break.
- Warson said that everything they need to make wine is at Moraga Bel Air. From red fermenters to the wine press to stainless steel drums and barrels. The cave itself is never above 60 degrees. “It’s a Fantasyland,” Warson said, “it’s a lot of fun and it’s easy.”
Tasting Notes (My notes follow theirs, noted as EB in italics.)
2019 White (Not stated on label: Sauvignon Blanc) 14.7 alcohol.
From the website: Golden in the glass, it begins with lush aroma of white peach, nectarine and white flowers. The palate opens with a flash of acidity followed by smooth waves of honey-dusted nectarine and seared stone fruit. The exotic fruit and mineral characteristics of our vineyard dominate the flavor profile. The wine is an atypically long-lived Sauvignon Blanc. $92
EB: A decadent Sauvignon Blanc with amazing aromas and flavors of white peach, lemon-lime soda, cantaloupe melon, Meyer lemon zest with a beautiful mouthfeel that just lingered on the palate forever. Warson said that the wine was made in a Bordeaux style, and had a generous amount of flintiness. Another reviewer on the Zoom call noticed a salinity. I went back in for another whiff and it did remind me of an ocean breeze. The property, Warson said, is four miles from the Santa Monica Bay.
2017 Red (Not stated on label: Cabernet Sauvignon) 14.7 alcohol.
From the website: There is a unique and identifiable Moraga signature of soft tannins, supple texture, pure black Cabernet fruit, currant and tobacco. This vintage shows black cherry, roasted coffee and a hint of caramel on the ripe nose. Polished tannins and fresh acidity deliver flavors of blackberry jam, truffle, vanilla, and caramel. $140
EB: This wine, a Bordeaux blend that included 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 1.5% Petit Verdot and 1.5% Cabernet Franc, blew my socks off. It was BIG with notes of red to blue fruit, black peppercorns, bark, smoke, and chocolate with dried cherry bits. Big fruit with equally big tannins allowed for an extremely long finish. The wine, after some time in new French oak, had spent 26 months in the bottle before its release. Warson plans to “dial it back” but I was plenty happy with how this red presented.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in the first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 17k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Las Vegas Proof Awards, LA Wine Competition, Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.