SoMa Cellars |

From Chocolate Milk to Napa Cab and Bordeaux

Posted by: Jim Mayall - August 19, 2023

The Early Days

Peter and I were Elementary School classmates in Janesville, Wisconsin. We drank chocolate milk together in father/son activities. We drank PBR together as freshman roommates at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Later in life, we both gravitated toward wine as our adult beverage of choice.


In Northern California, Peter had become a garage winemaker, what the French call a “garagiste”. He had given me a bottle of Syrah which he had made at the Hercules Wine Works and I had stored in the cellar. Several years later when Peter was visiting from Northern California, I served it to him blind in a paper bag. We both loved the wine. He guessed that it was a Northern Rhone, the original home of the Syrah grape. I agreed that it had that flavor profile and surprised him when I pulled the bag off the bottle to reveal his Syrah!

From that point forward, I knew that Peter knew how to make great wine in the traditional European style. When the opportunity to join him in the SoMa Cellars project came up, Ilene and I jumped at it.

Peter’s SoMa Napa Cab was also made in the traditional European style. Like a fine Bordeaux (the original home of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape) it had a balance between the fruit flavors and acids, the alcohol and the tanins. SoMa cab always tastes great as a young wine, but it also stands the test of time by aging gracefully and developing the natural complexities which reward those of us who collect and cellar fine wine.

On to France!

We have cellared every vintage of our Napa Cab since our 2007 inaugural vintage. They are all still drinking beautifully. In 2012, we were able to produce our first Bordeaux, a Cabernet Sauvignon dominant classic Left Bank Bordeaux which we named Cuvee Rive Gauche (Left Bank Blend). We blend multiple vineyards of great Cabernet Sauvignon fruit with several vineyards of Merlot to soften it and Cabernet Franc to give it more flavor and structure.

In 2016, we were able to add a classic Right Bank Bordeaux to our lineup. Our Cuvee Rive Droit (Right Bank Blend) is predominantly Merlot from St Emilion and Pomerol vineyards with Cabernet Franc blended in to enhance the flavor profile and add backbone to the wine.

Moving Forward

Over the past 20 years SoMa has evolved from a single barrel of Napa Cab to an international lineup of fine wines from California and Bordeaux. We are among a small number of producers which offer classic Napa Cab and the two classic red wines of Bordeaux. Peter, Ilene and I are thrilled that you are able to join us in this journey to enjoy world-class wines at reasonable prices.