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 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 he or she is an idiot about anything – especially wine.

I have been making my own wines since 2003 and have been mentored by great wine makers like Robert Mondavi, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, Michael Richmond, Philip Titus, and many others whose names are not as famous. The knowledge they have imparted to me and my wine-making have helped my wines reach 80-95 points (Bronze to Gold Medal).

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. At the time I started making my wine and 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 this web site. If you have the opportunity to taste my early vintages the name on the label is Mordazini – the newer vintages have 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 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 this same time (May 2017) we moved to Henderson, NV to spend time with our son and his growing young family. We enjoy spending time with them often. We consumed or gave away all of the 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 1987.  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 at every turn.

In the summer of 1987, 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, will cost you 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.  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 – Time to Buy Grapes

We sold the property in early 2004, and decided grape growing should be left to more expert farmers, and that we would buy the fruit until we could afford to buy a vineyard in the Napa Valley.

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 has now moved to making them too, so I’m determined to move forward with this effort.

We named our winery Mordasini after my great-great grandmother on my mother’s side, Rose Louise Mordasini Chavalley (her maiden name was Mordasini – we do not have history of her parents).  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 Norwegians and Germans were not as well known in history for their wines as for other things.

Mordasini WineryIn my 15 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. 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 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.

My Winemaker’s Journey is not over yet. When you visit me, and if want to talk about wine making I am always happy to educate others about what I have learned. 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.