Beekeeper Cellars

Beekeeper started with a simple vow: “craft beautiful vineyard expressions from premier vineyard sites, and reintroduce the quality wine audience to Zinfandel.”

Beekeeper Cellars is the vision of close friends and co-winemakers Ian Blackburn and Clay Mauritson. Individually, the two pursued adventurous careers in the wine industry, and eventually came together to launch a collaborative project—Beekeeper Cellars.
A 7th generation grape grower himself, Clay and his family found themselves the owners of a significant slice of the Rockpile Appellation through a fortuitous combination of historical land transactions. Aware of the potential in this land, the Mauritson family created the Rockpile AVA. In 1998, Ian and Clay climbed the hill and watched as the Madrone Spring Vineyard was planted. It was there that the future of Rockpile began to solidify, and there that they began to understand the dream that it represented in their lives.

In 2008, Clay saw the fruits of his family’s labor taking shape and came to Ian with a unique opportunity to utilize the fruit from his land. He told Ian in the difficult days of 2008, “now is the time to get in and build the business and have it take shape.” Ian’s reaction: “When your best friend is Clay Mauritson and he offers not only a share of his fruit, but also his hand in winemaking… you make Zinfandel.”

In Los Angeles, Ian operates a specialty wine marketing organization known as wineLA and has pioneered wine education for over 20 years (since 1995) through www.learnaboutwine.com and www.wineLA.com. Along with wineLA, Beekeeper Cellars as an undertaking is one facet of Ian’s Masters of Wine Thesis project and provides him the winemaking training he requires to help pass the infamously difficult Masters of Wine exam—an ongoing pursuit.

Beekeeper started with a simple vow: “craft beautiful vineyard expressions from premier vineyard sites, and reintroduce the quality wine audience to Zinfandel.” Today, we continue to innovate toward that goal. Our wines are crafted with all the attention to detail of an ultra-premium Cabernet—premier vineyards, low yields, carefully hand-selected fruit, and artisan winemaking. They are quality-focused, with extended time in French Oak barrels. Because of this meticulous approach, our wines are built to age. In fact, they require age. Our Zinfandel is a worthy investment, and patience will be consistently rewarded with a unique depth of flavor from any of our vineyard bottlings. Ian, Clay, and day-to-day winemaker Emma Kudritzki Hall are deeply invested in this offering, and seeing it through as the years progress and the business grows.

In the 1800’s, an essential requirement for immigration into America was to be in a noble profession. Ian’s great grandparents, committed though they were to immigrating, were pre-Vaudeville entertainers, certainly not noble by any standard of the time.

Ian’s family was modestly driven; they struggled and lived off the land, and therefore played any number of roles in their lives. At one point they were farmers, once hunters, once beekeepers. With the prospect of being refused entry, and having been in the business of survival all their lives, they claimed in their application to be beekeepers. It was a success, they were granted entry, and from there the family bi-line was established… “We come from a long line of Beekeepers.” Ian was named after his uncle, whose radio handle was “Beekeeper” during his time as a Naval officer. Finally, in his own sense a beekeeper, Ian has kept the ancestral business alive.

In support of our beekeeping contemporaries, we continually donate to local bee-oriented charities such as Honey Love (honeylove.org). We believe that the secrets of the beehive are yet to be fully understood—that the future of all our lives is predicated on the survival of the Honey Bee. What profession could be nobler? Long live the beekeepers!





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