LITERALLY TRANSLATED, the French word “presqu’île” means “almost an island,” but for the Murphy family of El Dorado, the word holds a deeper meaning. For years, the family had a compound on the Gulf Coast they affectionately nicknamed Presqu’ile (press-KEEL), and when the property was lost to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they knew they’d lost something they’d never be able to get back. In 2007, shifting gears, the family—Madison and Suzanne Murphy, along with their children, Matt, Anna and Jonathan, and their two daughters-in-law—purchased 200 acres in California’s Santa Maria Valley and began producing wine. When it came time to name the new venture, there was one name the Murphys kept returning to again and again: Presqu’ile.

In the years since, with the help of South African winemaker Dieter Cronje, the family has built a reputation for elegant wines, and they’ve become evangelists for the Santa Maria Valley. The valley’s unique position, running perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean, funnels cool sea breezes along the valley floor, allowing the grapes to reach full ripeness while holding on to the acidity that’s so important to making good wine.

Presqu’ile produces pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and a rosé. Pinot noir was the answer when we got the chance to ask Presqu’ile president and co-founder (and ElDo native) Matt Murphy if he had a favorite. “Growing up, it was always around for dinner, he said. “My parents fostered my love for all the wines of Burgundy.”  We tend to agree—the Presqu’ile pinot noir, with balanced oak and notes of cooked cherries and freshly tilled earth, is a winner. Try it for yourself when Presqu’ile comes home to El Dorado for the Southern Food & Wine Festival this month. 

The Southern Food & Wine Festival takes place May 4-5 in El Dorado’s Murphy Arts District. Highlights include Friday night’s five-course wine dinner, Saturday’s Grand Tasting event, workshops by master sommeliers and a performance by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. For more info, visit eldomad.com.