The Story of Chateau Margene
Atop the rolling hills just outside Creston, Michael & Margene Mooney began the fulfillment of their dream to plant a vineyard, build a winery and establish their home. The family took up residence on the property in the Summer of 1998 and planted the 5.5 acre estate vineyard in the Fall of 1998. Chateau Margene’s first wine was their 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon, with grapes sourced from a vineyard in Paso Robles’ west side Templeton Gap area and another vineyard off Airport Road in east Paso Robles.
Michael is the viticulturalist and winemaker. The original vineyard was re-planted and the estate now totals 9 acres, consisting of four clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot & Sangiovese . Farming practices are organic & sustainable, although certification is not sought and the wines are not certified organic due to the addition of sulfites. The goal is to allow the vines to find their sense of place (terrior). Vine balance is acheived through deficit irrigation, canopy management, shoot thinning, cluster thinning, the usage of fish & seaweed nutrients.
Michael’s family history in California dates back seven generations, five in the Central Coast. His forefather, Ignacio Linares, was a soldier on the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition into California in 1775. Ignacio’s grandson, Victor Linares was granted a Mexican Land Grant in San Luis Obispo County, by then Governor Juan B. Alvarado, for Rancho Canada de Los Osos in 1842. The grant extended from the Pacific coast along Los Osos Valley toward present day San Luis Obispo and encompassed part of Montana de Oro State Park. In 1849, San Luis Obispo became one of the first counties in California and in September 9, 1850, California was admitted to the union. In 1851, the state set up a land commission to settle private land claims. The rancheros (landowners) had to prove their Mexican land grants were valid. Hearings were conducted in San Francisco in English only (Spanish was the main language of the county at this time). Many rancheros went bankrupt in the process of trying to get a "government-recognized" title to their land. Victor Linares lost his property in this land grab by the English speaking settlers. His son, Pio Linares (Michael's great, great great uncle) was a vaquero who worked for many rancheros in and around San Luis Obispo county. After his father Victor lost his land, Pio joined up with the notorious Jack Powers Gang whose exploits are detailed in many books and historical documents.
Having lived in the Tri-County area of Central California his entire life, Michael and his wife Margene decided to launch a winery in San Luis Obispo county where his forefathers settled.