Discover Seven Apart’s New Winemaker | Morgan Maureze
Change is the only constant, particularly when it comes to winemaking. Each year, the vintage will depend on the shifts in weather, the different techniques applied in the vineyard, and even the percentage used in each blend of wine. While some fear it, the truth is that change is the momentum needed for growth. As Seven Apart enters its sixth year of winemaking, we welcome growth with our new winemaker, Morgan Maureze. Once a student of Andy Erickson and now a close friend, Morgan is a learned scholar of winemaking and intends to build upon Andy’s strong foundations. A change of hands, yes. But certainly not a change of heart.
Thank You, Andy
When founder Don Dady founded Seven Apart, there was only one winemaker he approached: Andy Erickson. Don recognized Andy had the experience needed to yield greatness from a burgeoning vineyard. As a consulting winemaker, Andy also knew that the winery’s needs would eventually outgrow the capacity he could offer. But Andy took on the challenge of establishing Seven Apart with gusto. He tended to the complexity of Stags Ridge with the gentle patience it demanded, wedging vine trellises between million-year-old boulders. Further down the Atlas Peak slope, he oversaw the replanting of the Base Camp vineyard with expert viticulturist Mike Wolf and kitted out a brand new cellar setup to his exact specifications. In short, he took the blueprint of our winery and brought it to life. Most importantly, he took our extreme mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and turned it into the world-class Seven Apart wines you have come to know and love. With each passing year, Seven Apart’s reputation for quality Napa Cabernet grew, and so did our winery’s needs. Soon, it was time to take the next step. As Andy turned his focus to his own wine brands, we began to ask: Was there anyone in the world who could fill Andy’s storied shoes? As it happens, Andy knew—and had trained—just the man. Morgan joined our team on April 1 of this year. We quickly realized he doesn’t need to fill anyone’s shoes; he has a pair wholly his own.
From Premier Cru to Cult Wineries
Born in France, Morgan was raised practically among the vines. Both his parents hailed from winemaking lineages: his father from the fifth generation and his mother from the third. His childhood wasn’t just an experience; it was an education. By the age of 12, he could discern grape varieties with just a whiff and a sip. By 16, he was accompanying his father to trade fairs across Europe. “Quite simply, I knew I wanted to be a winemaker from a very young age,” opens Morgan.
He started his career in his mid-teens, spending holidays and summers at Dominus estate, where he mostly worked in the vineyards. Upon achieving his UC Davis diploma in viticulture and enology, he decided to further pursue his education in his native region at the University of Bordeaux in an endeavor to compare both worlds. During his stay in France, he worked at the prestigious Château Haut-Brion, Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix (which managed esteemed chateaus such as Petrus, Magdalaine, and Trotanoy), and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, where he ultimately completed his Masters Thesis. Not a shabby start for a 20-something.
Upon returning to Napa Valley, Morgan began working with Andy. “Andy just kind of plucked me right out of the college,” Morgan says. “I began assisting Andy at Ovid, working on his small high-end Napa Valley clients Arietta Wines, Dancing Hares Vineyards, Dalla Valle Vineyards, Marciano Estate, and Screaming Eagle. We worked closely together, and I became the right-hand man.” In total, Morgan trained under winemaker Andy Erickson for fifteen years.
“Andy is a great guy. But with time, I wanted to branch out and establish myself more, so I took over one of our clients full-time. That was Marciano Estate. I was the director and winemaker there from 2016 to 2023. Then, one day in early Spring, Andy rang.”
Passing The Baton
Andy told him he was looking to pass the baton onto the right person at his labor of love, Seven Apart. Morgan came to view the facilities and was impressed by what he saw. “The vineyards were exceptional. I met the team, including Managing Partner Yannick Girardo, and loved them. I was sold.”
Today, Morgan’s office is at Seven Apart, and he jokes that it is like his base camp. “I appreciate that many people think that when there is a change in winemakers, there will be a change in styles. That’s not going to be the case here,” he reflects.
Having worked together for over a decade, Morgan’s approach is to evolve rather than revolutionize Seven Apart wines. “Andy and I share a very similar winemaking style. He has always said not to make wine by numbers. So with Seven Apart, I intend to follow my gut – or palate in this case.”
He has spent the last few months examining the vineyard sites appropriately to understand the benefits and potential pitfalls. He and Andy have also spent many hours sitting down and tasting the wines, discussing Andy’s past strategy and seeing where there is room for improvement. They even worked on the 2021 Seven Apart vintages together. “Andy was probably one of my greatest mentors. While there is academic knowledge, he taught me how things are in real life. It’s not so much a handover as it is a passing of the baton – and I don’t intend to drop it,” muses Morgan.
Let The Vintage Speak For Itself
When it comes to winemaking, Morgan’s winemaking philosophy echoes Andy’s but also comes from years of working at some of the finest wineries in France, Chile, and the US. “Keep it simple. Keep it clean. I like it when there is a vintage variation because that means you’re expressing the vintage and not forcing it to be something it’s not,” he says. Basically, intervene only when necessary. “It’s the way the French do things too.”
Other takeaways from Morgan’s time in France include not over-extracting. He prefers the tannins to be softer and rounder, creating more elegant wines. “That means gentle extractions and cooler fermentations.” Morgan’s goal is to build upon the existing work that Andy has done by monitoring the vineyards as closely as possible. He said the team will do more micro-picking, picking smaller lots of grapes to tweak where necessary. Under Morgan’s guidance, the team will also work more on Stags Ridge. “When I go up there, I can feel how special it is. It’s one of those vineyards,” he shares. “There’s not much that needs changing – Andy modified things already when he came in, and I agree 100% with his modifications. Rather, it’s about managing it more closely as the vineyard ages and requires more attention. You’ve got to keep the yields reasonable and not become greedy. ”
In Morgan, Seven Apart has found Andy’s kindred spirit – someone who stops at nothing to achieve the finest quality possible in winemaking and all aspects of running the winery. He is the ultimate successor as we level up on the next step of our journey to the summit. Welcome, Morgan: here’s to you, and here’s to change!
This is the final chapter in our Discover Seven Apart series. Based on the maxim that a solid investment should have seven compelling things that set it apart, Seven Apart was born. If you’d like to rediscover our stories, you can find them here to learn the secret to our success:
Introduction: A Year of Discovery
1: DISCOVER SOIL: DIGGING DEEP INTO ATLAS PEAK
2: DISCOVER ALTITUDE | 1,475 FEET IN THE AIR