Have You Ever Wondered What The Difference Is Between Premium vs. Table Wine?

What Makes A Bottle Of Wine Worth More Than $100?

These and many more questions about the value of wine can be answered quite simply by saying, “There are only two kinds of wine. 1) Wine you like, and 2) Wine you don’t like. And if you like it, it’s worth whatever you are willing to pay for it!”

My winemaker’s journey began because of a single experience in 1985. Since then, I have been passionate about finding wines that are of the highest quality for my pallet at the lowest price. I have become passionate about sharing that knowledge and understanding with everyone I meet who wants to learn about wine.

I am not a certified Sommelier. I have thought about getting my certification, but feel it would not add anything to my passion about wines – although it could add to my vocabulary on the subject of wine so that I may speak with other wine aficionados about wine on a more sophisticated level. It would not, however, change how I communicate my knowledge to the masses who have had limited wine experiences that compel them into exploring more about wine. After all, no one likes to feel like an idiot about anything – especially wine.

I made my own wines from 2003 to 2004 from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes I planted as seedlings in 2001. I was self-taught and the wines were not very good. Still determined, After we sold the Estate and vineyard in 2004, and moved to downtown Napa, I continued to make wines from grapes I purchased in the Napa Valley until 2017.

History of Mordasini Winery

Madeleine & Randy

Madeleine & Randy Winemakers journey

My great grandmother on my mother’s side of the family was Swiss-born with the surname Mordasini. Her daughter, my grandmother, Madeleine Chavalley [Schroemges] Eggertsen, got to enjoy tasting our wines before she passed away at age 93. At the time I started making my wine I wanted to put a label on it I couldn’t obtain the domain name for mordaSini.com, so I decided to use mordaZini.com instead. You will find the names Mordasini and Mordazini interchanged throughout my wine-making career. If you had the opportunity to taste my early vintages the name on the label was Mordazini – the newer vintages had the label with the correct name Mordasini.

In 2017 I was diagnosed with cancer, and discovered alcohol consumption of more than a glass or two of wine each week was not healthy for me, so I stopped making wine. It was only cost effective and had the right flavor profile when making 25 or more cases with each vintage (that’s at least one barrel) or 1/2 ton of grapes. I can buy great wines from places like Costco Warehouse, and Cameron Hughes Wine for less than it would cost me to make it. AND, I can stock what we consume in a 50 bottle wine fridge rather than a dedicated A/C controlled room to hold multiple cases of wine.

At the same time (May 2017) we moved to Henderson, Nevada to spend time with our son and his growing young family. We consumed or gave away all of the 250 cases of wine in our cellar by the end of 2019.

Why I’m Passionate About Wine

Bern's Steak HouseMy passion for great wines was actually born in Tampa, FL in 1985.  Prior to that time I had tasted both white and red wines that made me shudder with disdain!  I couldn’t imagine how anyone could enjoy that nasty-sour drink, and avoided it as a choice for a drink.

In the summer of 1985, I was working in Tampa on a project that was completed ahead of schedule, and my employer decided to treat me to a special dinner that included wine at a place called Bern’s Steakhouse.  I was all for the steak, but the wine didn’t interest me at all.

Derrek, my boss – who was from the Bay Area in California, assured me that a wine he would pick would not be anything like those other wines I had tasted before, and was confident I would like it.  From a wine list of over 500,000 bottles* he selected a 1975 Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac. It was then at a price of $375**, but even at that price I remember thinking, “what a waste of money!”.  (*Bern’s now boasts over 1,000,000 bottles in their cellar. **The same bottle of wine, 1975 vintage in 2021, cost between $1,190 and $1,300).

When the wine came to the table, Derrek showed me how to inspect the color, smell the wine, and then finally how to taste it carefully.  I will never forget the memory of that first taste of a GREAT wine.  I still get “goosebumps” when I recall the memory. From that day to this, I have been on a quest to find great wines at reasonable prices.  After tasting thousands of different wines over the years, and finding some really good and even great wines for $10-50 per bottle, I decided to try my hand at it.

Before we began making wine in 2004, we planted our own small vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes in the Circle Oaks Estates property we owned in Napa County.  The vines were planted in the spring of 2002, and despite what we were told about making wine with young vines, I wanted to start learning about how to make wine, so I was ready for my first test in wine-making effort in the fall of 2003.  Sadly the wild turkeys decimated that crop, and we only got 3.5 gallons of must (one gallon of wine) out of the entire season — and my first attempt was a disaster – what a rotten wine it was!

No More Vineyards – Birth of Mordasini Winery

After we sold the Circle Oaks property in early 2004, we decided grape growing should be left to more expert farmers. After all, good wine comes from well-grown grapes.

After moving near downtown Napa, we spent 2004 renovating an older home, and in early 2005 we built a 200sq. ft. wine cellar (above ground).  My passion for great wines had now moved to making them too, so I was determined to move forward with this effort. We bought fruit from vineyards in the Napa Valley, and I focused on making wine.

We named our winery Mordasini after my great-great grandmother on my mother’s side. Her daughter, my great grandmother was Rose Louise Mordasini Chavalley (whose maiden name was Mordasini ).  The name has Swiss-Italian roots, and is the farthest back our genealogy research has taken us on that line.

I felt that I wanted something I was this passionate about to have a name that would be a tribute to my ancestry, and a name that was as close to making wine as possible. My other ancestors, the Norwegian, British and German were not as well known in history for their wines as for other spirits.

Mordasini WineryIn 16 years of my winemaker’s journey we released 12 vintages. I have to pay tribute to Robert Mondavi, of the famous Robert Mondavi winery, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, who crafted the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won in the famous 1976 Paris Tasting, and to Michael Richmond, the wine maker at Bouchaine Winery in Napa, for all of their encouragement and help in honing my wine making skills. The knowledge they imparted to me and my wine-making helped my wines reach 80-95 points (Bronze to Gold Medal) in State and International competitions. I want to give special thanks to Michael Richmond for helping me salvage my 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon vintage. I was so disappointed with the sulfur smell and taste I was going to dump it.  It was not a ‘great’ wine, but after his suggestions to fix it, all of my family and some of my friends really enjoyed it.  Those who didn’t like it are probably as numerous, but I think they may have been afraid of giving their honest opinion.

Randy & Jim Sanitizing bottlesMy biggest gratitude goes to my husband, Jim, for his support and assistance throughout this adventure. It has been a fun shared experience for both of us.

Although I no longer make wines, my Winemaker’s Journey is not over yet. When you visit us, if want to talk about wine making I am always happy share my wine education. We can enjoy a glass of wine together and I’ll help you understand what you’re drinking. Just like Derrek did for me back in 1985.

If you’re ever in Tampa, FL – I highly recommend a visit for dinner to Bern’s Steakhouse.

You can explore some of my journal history making wine by searching Wine on my BLOG.