When Mario Bazán arrived in Napa in 1973 from his native Oaxaca, Mexico, the valley was home to fewer than 50 wineries. Everyone seemed to know each other and worked together within the burgeoning industry. It was the wild west of winemaking, with an anything-is-possible atmosphere.
Fifty years later, as an accomplished vintner with his own eponymous winery, Bazán is an exemplar of the optimism that was so ripe back in the early days. Bazán’s first job in the valley was as a vineyard hand at Joseph Phelps, where he moved the portable irrigation daily and cleared the land for new vineyard development. He went on to work at other prestigious wineries, advancing from vineyard laborer and tractor driver to supervisory roles at iconic Opus One and To Kalon vineyards and at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
In 1997, with his wealth of vineyard expertise, he established his own vineyard management company, making his move to vintner a natural progression of his life’s work. Inspired by other Latinx wineries within Napa and Sonoma, Bazán and his wife, Gloria, desired to craft wines that highlighted the high standards that Bazán set in the vineyard. And they have succeeded. Bazán’s vast knowledge and experience set the tone for their Bazán Cellars wines, each of which reflects Bazán’s dedication to grape growing, combined with the creativity and vision of winemaker Kian Tavakoli. Bazán Cellars currently produces about 1,200 cases each year.
In addition to finding Bazán Cellars on the wine lists at several Bay Area restaurant locations, guests can now sample Bazán wines at their new tasting room in the heart of Downtown Napa, adjacent to the Napa River and near fine hotels and destination dining. The tasting room features outdoor tables, modern Mexican flair, and a series of photos that document Bazán’s career throughout the years. Guests can indulge in a tasting flight of their choice, including a Cabernet Sauvignon flight showcasing current and library wines or tasting flights that highlight their Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and a newly released 2021 RAMA Napa Valley Brut. Their wines speak for themselves while paying homage to humble farming and indigenous roots.
“At Bazán Cellars, our winemaking is about much more than just the wine,” said Bazán. “Our new Downtown Napa tasting room location allows us to share our wines with the larger community, and it’s incredibly rewarding for us. We enjoy meeting our guests and establishing new friendships.”