Mac McDonald is the owner of Vision Cellars – an incredible winery producing some of the best pinot noirs in the country. We talked to Mac about what it’s like to be a winemaking duo with his wife, the experience of being one of the few African American winemakers in the industry, and why pinot noir is his ultimate wine of choice.
. Your father was a renowned moonshine maker in Texas, did growing up around his business inspire you to want to make wine of your own?
Growing up I never enjoyed moonshine. My family always made wine from various fruits, however it was sweet. At age 12 I tasted a well-crafted wine and wanted to become a winemaker.
You are one of the few African American winemakers/vineyard owners in the industry. How do you feel that this has impacted your career? It would be amazing to see more diversity in the wine world – what do you think it would take to make that happen?
I feel and look at myself as a winemaker. There are many challenges and a variety of aspects that the wine industry has (i.e. ascertaining the best fruit available etc.) but if you make world class wine, folks will seek your wine and therefore enjoy your passion. Educating a wide range of nationally of folks about farming, cost, and winemaking skills would be a start in encouraging more African Americans to get into the wine business. The monetary expense needs to be considered when one thinks about getting into the wine business.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to open up their own vineyard and become a winemaker?
Think about the reason/why you want go into this business. This business is not a part time thing. Think about what type of wine you want to make and the cost. Location is important as well as understanding the market. Just because you are a sport figure or actor/famous person does not mean your wine will sell. It takes boots on the ground and many late nights and long days.
Your vineyard – Vision Cellars – focuses almost exclusively on creating outstanding Pinot Noirs. Why this wine in particular? What is it about Pinot Noir that has inspired you to build a career out of it specifically?
We enjoy the aromas and mouth feel of Pinot Noir. It’s also a wine that’s so food friendly. It’s so versatile.
Your wife, Ms. Lil, runs Vision Cellars side by side with you. What is it like working as a husband and wife winemaking duo?
It’s the best of all worlds working with Ms. Lil on a daily basis. She’s excellent with numbers, compliance, and making sure we get paid. She carries a very big load. As long as you enjoy what you are doing and make money…what’s not to enjoy? We are not husband and wife in the office, we are business partners and I own 60% of Vision Cellars and she owns 40%.
What is the rewarding part of making your own wine?
Ms. Lil and I work together, we know so many folks in this business, have fun, you get the experience of travelling and tasting many varieties of other wines in the world. We make the style of wine we enjoy. We have had the opportunity of assisting others who want to get into this business. And last but not least, seeing or hearing from folks that enjoy our “Vision.”