The Bourn Years

A Golden Opportunity


Marciano Estate revitalizes a proud winegrowing history that dates back to the mid-19th century. The property upon which our vineyards are planted was part of the Bourn family estate, a country residence for one of San Francisco’s most successful and influential families during the time of California’s Gold Rush. When the Bourns purchased the St. Helena property in 1872, the estate – which the family called Madroño – 

included over 100 acres of vineyards, orchards and grazing pastures, two cottages and a home. Though the Bourns replaced the original house with a much larger home, complete with Victorian towers and decorative stone work, this new home burned down in 1888. A second home – one that utilized the original stone walls along with a few oak doors -- was completed in 1903-1904, and still stands on our property today.

Marciano Estate History
Marciano Estate History
Marciano Estate History
Marciano Estate History
Marciano Estate History

The Bourn family had a keen interest in Napa Valley’s burgeoning wine industry, particularly Sarah Bourn, the family matriarch. After her husband, William I died, she devoted herself to learning everything she could about grape growing. In the meantime, her son, William Bourn II, recognized the need for additional winery capacity in Napa Valley. He and his partner, E. Everett Wise, built Greystone Cellars in 1888/89, one of Napa Valley’s

grandest structures and today the home of the Culinary Institute of America’s west coast campus. Though the onset of phylloxera dampened William II’s enthusiasm for the wine industry and triggered the sale of Greystone in 1894, the Bourn family continued to maintain their residence at Madroño, adding to their Napa Valley vineyard holdings and selling grapes to wineries throughout the valley.

A Transitional Period

The Christian Bros. & The Bradley’s

Marciano Estate
Marciano Estate Timeline

Madroño remained in the Bourn family through successive generations, and though parcels of the property were split off and handed down to various descendants, the home and surrounding 60 acres remained in family hands until the late 1950s. At that time the estate was sold to the Christian Brothers, who coincidentally had also purchased Greystone Cellars. The Brothers added a dormitory and small chapel to the property, and from 1961-1994 it served as a Catholic retreat center. In 1994 the estate was purchased by the Bradley family,

who undertook extensive and careful renovations of the various buildings on the property, converting the dormitories to guest quarters and the chapel to a small gymnasium. The Bradley’s planted 20 acres of vineyards up the hill from their home, and like the Bourn family, sold their grapes to various Napa Valley winemakers. In 2006, the Bradley family sold the property to Maurice Marciano – our founder and proprietor – and the next chapter of this historical estate began.

Marciano Estate - Greystone, St. Helena, California

Greystone, St. Helena, California – Image courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America


Marciano Purchase

Marciano Estate Timeline
Marciano Estate Timeline

I’ll never forget the first time I visited the property that would become Marciano Estate. It was a cool, clear day in January, and as I walked up the hillside behind the home and barn I came upon a stand of douglas fir trees perched above the 20-acre vineyard. I stopped in my tracks. All of a sudden I had a feeling. This was it, this is where I belong. There was a kind of magic, a moment of peace. When a soil test came back showing a premium quality of nutrients capable of producing great cabernet, I purchased the property.

That was in 2006, and over the next several years I took on one of the great projects of my life: creating a winery estate capable of making a truly great wine.

There was much to do. I re-planted the vineyard, paring twenty acres down to just ten of the very best blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. I built a winery, hiring the very talented architect Howard Backen, who incorporated into the design the very same St. Helena-quarried stone that graces the property’s historic family home. And I planted olive trees, groves of Italian and Spanish varieties that we use to create our very own signature blend of extra virgin olive oil. Today, these many years later, Marciano Estate carries on a tradition that began over a century ago, a place where dreams and passion have combined to fulfill a property’s destiny.

Marciano Estate - Old Bricks
Marciano Estate - New Bricks

The stone that was used to construct the original house on the property became miraculously available to Maurice at the last moment to build the new Winery. Symmetry is ageless.