By Mark C. Anderson November 24, 2016 Updated: November 24, 2016 11:00am
When the California Association of Winegrape Growers named Steve McIntyre its Grower of the Year not long ago, he had a problem with it.
Which isn’t like McIntyre. He’s one of the most mild-mannered men to ever plant a vineyard.
Seems he wanted the name of his team on the plaque rather than his.
“I hoped it said ‘Monterey Pacific’ and not my name,” he said then. But he’s OK not getting what he wants. All he originally wanted was to be a professional musician. Instead he’s become a pillar of Monterey County wine.
Back before wine clubs were popular or Pinot was a sought-after varietal, he helped Rich Smith and Nicky Hahn create the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation while at his winemaking post with Smith & Hook. A green-practices pioneer, he later became a founding member of the Central Coast Vineyard Team’s Sustainability in Practice (SIP) program.
At the same time, his evolution as a winemaker mirrored that of Monterey County. For years the area grew just as many grapes as Napa but enjoyed a fraction of the reputation for winemaking.
McIntyre was meanwhile quietly cultivating Monterey Pacific, a vineyard management and development company, into the fifth-largest company of its kind in the United States. He and his team nurture more than 10,000 acres for popular labels like Bonny Doon, Biagio, J. Lohr and Trinchero.
While his clients loved his work, nobody had heard of Monterey Pacific — to this day it doesn’t even have a Web address — which was fine with McIntyre.
“It flies under the radar,” he says.
He brought his own eponymous label to market with his 2005 Pinot. Now, like Monterey County, McIntyre is getting his due for grapes and wine. Teaming with winemaker Byron Kosuge, he can draw from decades — and thousands of acres — of experience.
“It allows us to demonstrate what we do in the vineyard,” he says.
It helps that he harvests from some of the Santa Lucia Highlands’ oldest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, originally planted by the McFarland family in 1973. His Pinots are dense and lively benchmarks for the varietal. Chardonnays like his 2014 Estate K1 Block bring complexity and richness. The sparkling l’Homme Qui Ris is delicate, elegant and powerful at the same time.
People like to speak highly of his character — and he does donate countless hours to 4-H — but he’s also just a surprising character. He and his wife, Kimberly, are obsessed with Bernese mountain dogs, with six currently sharing their house. He’s a licensed pilot. He likes to listen to Eminem while washing dishes — and compares the white rapper to his signature white wine.
“They both have an edginess, and are higher in acidity,” he says.
Taste the wines: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, Mondays by appointment, five wines for $12 waived with purchase of a bottle, 169 Crossroads Blvd., Carmel; (831) 626-6268, www.mcintyrevineyards.com