Scientist. Artist. Creator. Facilitator. Nurturer. Businessman.
From vineyard to table, Winemaker Mark Herold, Ph.D. has incredible wealth of experience and an in-depth, scientific knowledge of the wine business. A true renaissance artisan with a healthy dose of accomplished scientist, Mark’s background is storied in successfully developing new, highly esteemed wine estates, as well as reinvigorating established wineries. Making wine and advising both larger institutional wineries, such as his work with Joseph Phelps Vineyards, along with his successful efforts at boutique wine properties, such as Harris Estate and Hestan Vineyards, provide Mark with the unique ability to assess the specialized needs of both large and small wineries.
From winery design to cutting-edge vinification techniques, Mark’s proven sophistication and skill as an artisan winemaker has earned him the highest accolades from Robert Parker, Jr.:
“An inspirational story…”
“Among the most exciting new reds to come out of northern California in the last several years…”
“Every wine is at least outstanding.”
“Producing thrilling Cabernet Sauvignon, largely because of the extraordinary enthusiasm and uncompromising ferocity…”
With his Ph.D. in Ecology with an emphasis in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California, Davis, and his undergraduate work in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine, Mark’s scientific groundings in vineyard development and management establish the basis for all of his other work. Proper vineyard management techniques, along with matching clonal selections to their ideal site set apart a new winemaking endeavor for those seeking to create a premium wine. Mark’s expertise with budding over existing rootstock, combined with intelligent soil amendments, can offer a fresh lease to an established site. His longstanding connection with wine growers, along with a hard won respect accorded him throughout the world of wine, allows him to source the finest fruit from the best sites. Mark understands intense monitoring of source vineyards at crucial junctures, such as pruning, irrigation, fruit and leaf-thinning and finally at harvest, make the difference between a very good wine and a very fine wine.
Mark began making wine at home in 1993. He met a University of California, Davis, biochemistry professor who moonlighted on the weekends as a winemaker and encouraged Mark to make his own wine. That was the turning point. Upon graduation, Mark followed his heart and made the decision to enter the wine industry in earnest. Mark now consults as winemaker for several luxury wine brands, with the mission of producing intense, highly extracted, terrior-driven wines.
Successfully starting and selling Merus, his own highly regarded wine label, Mark understands the work, skill and nuance required to make coveted, age-worthy wines of caliber. Producing Merus was a labor of love, allowing Mark to express his vision of truly great wine. He was able to draw on the incredible amounts of technical information garnered from his previous experience as Research Enologist for the esteemed Joseph Phelps Vineyards in Napa Valley, where he spent an intensive six years as part of their winemaking team. Mark utilized his scientific education to apply classic research techniques to increase the quality of wines for Joseph Phelps Vineyards. He was also given the latitude to experiment with and apply winemaking methods considered unconventional in conservative surroundings, enabling him to help produce world-class wine.
In developing Merus Vineyards from inception though to its successful sale, Mark conceptualized and built a premium wine brand, which even gained critical acclaim prior to the release of its first vintage. That first vintage sold out within a month. 95% of Merus’ inventory continues to be sold directly, and desirably, to its mailing list clientele, with the remainder placed in exclusive restaurants. Notably, all of the wine is sold directly from the winery. Mark’s experience with creating a successful wine brand allows him to share his understanding of the key components of successfully launching a wine into the marketplace. His expertise extends to the development of an overall strategy and business plan: advising on the timing of the wine’s release, submission of wines for reviews from key wine critics, as well as providing insight and options.
Following the enormous success of Merus, clients have sought out Mark’s skills and services to help them produce premium California wines. His clients include Buccella, Celani Family Vineyards, Harris Estate, Hestan Vineyards, Kamen, and Kobalt. Says Robert M. Parker, Jr. “These cuvées admirably showcase Herold’s winemaking philosophy as well as skills. It’s a philosophy built on patience as well as labor. Herold’s success with such new projects as Bucella, Hestan Vineyards, Harris Estate, and Kamen is further evidence that the man knows what to do in the vineyard and the winery.”
Ensuring quality production for a premium wine means meticulous attention to detail; nurturing the wine along at stage of its life by overseeing all harvest, fermentation and winemaking decisions. Determining when to harvest and deliver the fruit, assessing its chemistry profile, making the proper additions of sulfur and enzymes, choosing the yeasts, nurturing the fermentations, strategizing with clients on barrel cooperage choices, and finishing with cork and bottle options are all part of creating a luxury wine with a pedigree and sense of place.
Whether it be overseeing every element of wine production at a custom-crush facility or working in a client’s winery, Mark lends his considerable talents to customizing the winemaking operation for each client. Mark’s unique understanding of science, viticulture and business create an undeniable breadth of capabilities. This sphere of knowledge extends to establishing new wineries, working with established, premium wineries to freshen their wines and image, and cultivating the small, unpolished gems.
“When it comes to wine production, I am a perfectionist, and would not expect any less from the demands set by my clients. Because of my drive for the highest quality wine for my own brand and my clients’ brands, I am seeking consultancy work from only a very small number of clients committed to making the finest wine possible. I feel that my clients benefits from my limited time commitments since I can fully concentrate on their wine production while maintaining a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.”