What’s it like living amongst the vineyards at MacMurray Estate?
I love living amongst the vineyards.  The MacMurray Estate has a different personality than when my family was raising cattle here because you really get a sense of the seasons in the vineyard and the seasons around you. In the fall, after harvest, the leaves turn a beautiful burnished color of gold and almost magenta. It is as if they are giving you everything they’ve got before they go to sleep for the wintertime. Then there is a dormant period before they start pruning, bud break, and finally, the wonderful build up to and anticipation of the harvest. Seasonally, you get a better sense of time and life going by in the vineyards.

What does your job entail?
Under the broad banner of sales and marketing, my job involves some travel, talking about our wines, hosting wine dinners and lunches, and taking our wines to retail stores and restaurants so they can taste through MacMurray Estate’s portfolio of premium wines. Sometimes it revolves around a food and wine event, sometimes it’s straight sales, and sometimes it’s interviews.

What varieties of grapes are grown on MacMurray Estate?
Pinot Noir is the primary grape planted here, but we have a luscious Pinot Gris as well. The first vineyards were planted in 1996, 1997 and 1998, and so these vineyards have been flourishing for quite awhile now. They are offering tremendous fruit, great structure and complexity—and because of where we are situated in the Russian River Valley, with the cooler influence in the mornings and evenings and nice heat in the afternoon, the fruit is very intense and bright.

Tell us about the MacMurray Estate wines.
The Pinot Noir has a velvety quality and expressive fruit notes of dark plum, cherry and blackberry. Our Pinot Gris has hints of apple and subtle tropical notes. They are stunning.

Do you have any tips for entertaining during the holidays?
Delicious food, great wine and lovely music with the ones nearest and dearest to me always seems to bring great cheer.

What have you found to be the best food and wine matches with MacMurray Estate vineyard-designate wines?
Because the wines are so balanced, MacMurray Estate wines will pair nicely with most any dish, but one of my personal favorites is a cup of chili, fireside with a glass of MacMurray Russian River Pinot Noir. The meatiness of the chili really shows off the fruit.

You seem to have a real love affair with Sonoma County. Why do you love it here?
I love Sonoma County for many reasons but I guess the most important reason is because I was raised here. I had a very unique and lovely childhood here. I had terrific parents, and they loved it here as well. They left me the legacy of love for Sonoma County, the land, my neighbors and for my community. I really have a sense of belonging, and that’s hard to come by sometimes. No matter where I go or where I travel, one foot is always anchored in Sonoma County.

You once said, “Any little thing that is good about me, came from this place.” Can you elaborate?
My dad believed that land defines character. I recall on starry, beautiful summer nights, we’d actually get up on the roof of the ranch house with sleeping bags and look at all of the shooting stars. Dad would always say, “You have this beautiful place as the backdrop for your life, and you must be grateful and take advantage of that…always be respectful, and continue to honor the land in whatever way you can.” I hope I am doing that now through MacMurray Estate Vineyards. The ranch is 1,500 acres and about 450 acres are planted to vine, which is perfect, really, because that allows the vineyards to be surrounded by acre upon acre of natural habitat. The birds that fly over, the animals that crawl or walk through the land and inform the soil, and the trees that offer some sediment during the wintertime, which flows into the valley floor— everything around the vineyards adds a specialness to the quality and the complexity of the fruit we grow here.

When is the estate open to the public?
The Gallo Family hosts the Taste of Sonoma once a year during Labor Day weekend. This is a great opportunity for guests to enjoy the MacMurray Estate and sip and savor the very best of Sonoma County’s wines and cuisine. Over 60 local chefs show off their best pairings with more than 200 wineries pouring their best wines. It is really a once in a lifetime experience. SD


Kate MacMurray, daughter of actors Fred MacMurray and June Haver, lives on the historic MacMurray Estate in the heart of the Russian River Valley. It was there she learned how to ride a horse, tend to chickens, drive a stick shift on a vintage Army jeep, take care of calves (her dad raised Scottish black Angus cattle) and explore the beautiful hiking and riding trails and hills surrounding their home. In 1996, the MacMurray Estate was sold to the Gallo Family, and in 2001, they asked Kate to work in sales and marketing on behalf of MacMurray Estate Vineyards.

“Kate MacMurray has been instrumental in bringing the legacy of MacMurray Ranch and the wines of MacMurray Estate Vineyards to life,” said Matt Gallo, Vice President of Coastal Operations and Winemaking at E. & J. Gallo Winery. “She embodies our passion for great wine and our deep roots in Sonoma County.”