Mariano Navarro

Extreme Winemaking

Mariano Navarro, Vineyard Manager

High atop Mt. Veeder with his German shepherd companion Akaela, Mariano Navarro finds that his spirit soars and his heart begins racing, and not, he says, just because of climbing up the rugged terrain. As the sun rises at 5 a.m. over Block 689 on the Veeder Peak Estate vineyard, the views toward the Vaca Mountains in the east are breathtaking. But then, the vistas in nearly every direction are simply, well, magical.

Mariano Navarro is a classic man of the soil. He worked with his father in the fields near Escondido in Southern California when he was just 12 years old. At 17, he found himself at San Pasqual Vineyards and Winery, working in both the cellar and the vineyards, the beginning of what was to become his life's passion.

After time at San Pasqual, he yearned to learn more, starting first at Cal Poly Pomona, then graduating from the University of California, Fresno, with a BS in plant science/viticulture. Dreams often reveal themselves unexpectedly, and the opportunity to work in Spain for Codorníu proved irresistible. Mariano was the first in his family to graduate from college and the first to travel. As he continued his deepening understanding of the vines, a fulfilling partnership with winemaker Chris Carpenter was on the horizon.

After working with a major California winery, Mariano sat across the table from Jess Jackson, another man with a deep and abiding love of the soil. He found himself charmed, and in 1999 he joined Jackson Family Farms, working first in the Russian River Valley, then Knight's Valley, and now, for nearly a decade, overseeing vineyards in Napa Valley.

Working for the Jackson family brings the opportunity to partner with great winemakers and equally great vineyards. Partnerships run deep, since these winemakers are true vignerons. They and Mariano stand side by side in the rugged vineyards to make precious decisions that speak directly to the exceptional quality that has been the hallmark of Lokoya, Cardinale, and now Mt. Brave.

There's a rhythm to the mountain that Mariano now hears clearly. His connection both to the land and to winemaker Chris Carpenter shows in every bottle of Mt. Brave.