Elinor Travers, of Mayacamas Vineyard in Napa Valley, died June 1 after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 69 and well-known in the wine business, though both she and her husband, Bob, kept a low profile.
The couple rejuvenated Mayacamas in the late 1960s, and Elinor (known as Nonie) did a little bit of everything, from bookkeeping to landscaping to managing customer relations to organizing hospitality events. She was also a "very good wine taster," said Bob.
“She was the key person, the backbone [of the winery]," he said. "I’d just show up [at events] and talk about the wine and she did everything else. I’m not sure I could have [made it in the wine business] without her.”
Some 40 years ago, the couple left careers at investment firms in San Francisco to pursue winemaking. In 1968, they purchased the historic, run-down Mayacamas Vineyard, high atop Mount Veeder, and made their first wine that year.
“I suppose we were lucky [the winery needed an overhaul] because it was affordable,” Bob said.
Neither Bob nor Elinor had worked in the wine industry before they purchased the winery. “Our only experience was in consumption,” he said.
They went on to create one of Napa’s early icons, with their chewy, ageworthy, mountain-grown Cabernets and flinty Chardonnays. They also made a lighter style of Pinot Noir and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, as well as some late-harvest Zinfandels (early on) that people still talk about.
Basil P Caloyeras — Los Angeles, CA — September 7, 2007 12:21am ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — September 10, 2007 1:14pm ET
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