Pax MahleOn Wednesday, March 13, 2024, we had the opportunity to meet and interview Pax Mahle. Pax is the owner and winemaker for Pax Winery. We covered eight of his current-release Pax wines during the interview. Check out what we learned from and about Pax.

Before we get to the wines, I thought I would share some tidbits Pax shared.

  • Pax started as a sommelier in Nantucket at 21 Federal Street (Now called Ventuno) and at Straight Wharf restaurant.
  • He then became the Corporate Wine Director for Dean & DeLuca running an “All California” wine program even though his east coast experience was driven by European wines. He was let go in 1999.
  • Pax then finally found a vineyard in which he felt a kismet connection. Alder Springs Vineyard was the site and subsequently led to the launch of the Pax brand in 2000.
  • The Mahle’s made a bold choice by favoring the “untapped potential” of the Syrah grape.
  • They also prefer cool climate vineyards in Sonoma County and Mendocino which is also very different from others in California. Pax prefers the northern Rhone style of Syrah.
  • All Pax fruit has been sourced from organically and/or sustainably farmed vineyards.
  • All Pax wines are crushed by foot!
  • Wines are made with whole clusters.
  • Rhyolite is the most silica-rich of volcanic rocks. Pax called it compressed volcanic ash.
  • Pax still sources Syrah from two of my favorite vineyards: Walker Vine Hill and Griffin’s Lair.
  • Some challenges they faced developing the winery and the brand.
    • Banks would only lend you $ if you were planting Pinot Noir.
    • The financial crisis of 2008 led to lots of Syrah vines being pulled. No one could sell Syrah.
    • There was a roller coaster ride early on. Some great early success. Some changes in direction with regards to wine style. Then the development of the Wind Gap winery. Then Wind Gap was sold in 2017 and the redevelopment of the Pax brand began again.
    • Pax says domestic Syrah is a hand sell. I will add word of mouth also works very well. Don’t sleep on Pax’s Syrahs and other wines!
  • Finally, Pax owns another winery and vineyard called Halcon Estate in the Yorkville Highlands. His partner in that project is Baron Ziegler. We hope to explore wines from this project in our next visit.

Below is a summary of the terrific current wines from Pax that we covered. The links below are to our full reviews. If you are interested in ordering and trying these wines, you will find some of these wines via your favorite fine wine shop or on top quality wines lists. You can also purchase these wines on the Pax website.

  1. Pax Wines 2022 Pinot Blanc “Dutton Ranch Shop Block” (Russian River) $38 (KWGTP 92)
  2. Pax Wines 2022 Chardonnay “Rhyolite” (Sonoma Coast) $65 (KWGTP 94)
  3. Pax Wine 2022 Gamay Noir “Rancho Coda” (Sonoma Coast) $40 (KWGTP 94)
  4. Pax Wine 2021 “GMS” (Mendocino County) $48 (KWGTP 93)
  5. Pax Wine 2021 Syrah “Majik Vineyard” (Sonoma Coast) $60 (KWGTP 94)
  6. Pax Wine 2021 Syrah “The Roots of Heaven” (Sonoma County) $125 (KWGTP 96)
  7. Pax Wine 2022 Syrah “Sonoma Hillsides” (Sonoma County) $60 (KWGTP 94.5)
  8. Pax Wine 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon “1000 Fulton Lane” (St Helena) $125 (KWGTP 93)

You can find reviews of past and future Pax wines that we cover on the Pax winery page on our website. We hope you enjoy these terrific wines as much as we did. Cheers! – Ken

By Ken

Ken launched in November 2006.