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Media Contact: Michael or Margene Mooney
Phone: 805-238-2321
Website: http://


With less than 1,000 cases of wine produced annually, the tiny Chateau Margene Vineyard and Winery located near Paso Robles couldn't be considered a very big label, but its 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon recently gained some huge accolades at a unique and prestigious tasting held in San Francisco.

At the "2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Shootout" -- a comparative judging event of world class Cabernet Sauvignons sponsored by Affairs of the Vine, Wine Works, and Wine Enthusiast Magazine -- a distinguished panel of wine professionals representing a broad spectrum of the industry was assembled to taste 300-plus Cabernets from the world over. The tasting was done blind, and wines were ranked according to a 100-point scale.

After the panel had chosen their favorites, Chateau Margene found itself with an impressive 91 rating, a stellar showing that tied it for seventh place overall. The label's rank in the top 13 wines meant that it would go on to the next level of the Shootout competition where those 13 wines would be judged not only by the palates of wine industry representatives, but consumers as well.

Evidently the handcrafted style of Chateau Margene's premium Cabernet Sauvignon turned some heads, since the label placed in a four-way for the top spot in the consumer rankings (along with a wine two-and-a-half times the price of Chateau Margene), and alone in first place in the industry rankings.

"It was an extremely pleasant surprise for us," said Winemaker Michael Mooney, who co-owns the tiny, family label with wife Margene. "We know we make some wonderful wine, but to have our small Paso Robles label compete so successfully at this level of competition was a tremendous validation that we're doing things right."

Mooney's tasting notes for the label's Cabernet Shootout standout are as follows: "Chateau Margene's 2000 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($32) is a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot. It was barrel aged for 26 months with 30% new American Oak. The wine shows ruby red with garnet hues ... flavors of black currant and cherry. It reveals its layers of aromas as it opens up in the glass …great balance, tannins and a velvety smooth finish."

The Mooneys' philosophy for producing exceptional ultra-premium wines can be summed up in one word: balance. This means creating the finest possible conditions for growing stellar grapes, picking them at exactly the right time and remaining vigilant about the size of the production -- which on the estate vineyards is kept at only about 2 tons per acre. According to Mooney, the goal is to "create the best possible wines we can with the superior fruit available from both the west and east sides of Paso Robles."

To that end, Mooney handcrafts small lots of the label's ultra-premium wines from the estate vineyards and other high quality growers in the Paso Robles area using an intensive hand-on process. Once at the winery, the grapes are all hand sorted prior to destemming, lightly crushed and then placed in small open-top fermentation bins. They see extended lees aging (up to 18 months) in small barrels throughout their life at the winery.

The Mooneys established their family label in 1998 after eight years of searching throughout California for the ideal setting. Finally, they were rewarded in their efforts, and discovered a pristine 22-acre parcel in the rolling hills of Creston, just 18 miles east of Paso Robles and situated in the Templeton Gap - a winegrowing area well-known for its cooling afternoon ocean breezes in the summertime. The site was perfectly suited to the red varietals the Mooneys enjoyed and wanted to grow, and their first vintage bottling, a velvety 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon, proved to them they had made the right decision.

Chateau Margene Vineyard and Winery is located at 4385 La Panza Road in Creston, CA 93432. For more information, call (805) 238-2321 or (877) MARGENE, or log onto The winery is open for tours and tasting on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from March 15th through October 15th. For more information about the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Shootout, log onto

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