ToyMaker Cellars was founded in 2011 with the mission of creating a fun and playful interpretation of a serious Napa Valley “Grand Cru” Cabernet Sauvignon by combining excellence in winemaking with world-class design.
The limited annual production of only 200 cases allows the focus to be entirely on quality, resulting in the best possible wines the terroir will allow. Only the finest grapes from a single high-elevation, hillside Diamond Mountain District vineyard are used. From imported French glass and Taransaud barrels to premier-quality Spanish cork, the finest materials combine with extended maceration and 28-months-long oak barrel aging to create the quintessential Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Head Winemaker Martha McClellan, a vinous forensics expert, marathoner, vineyard magician, and Napa Valley legend, has been making ToyMaker wines since the first vintage in 2012. Other labels of Martha’s include Levy & McClellan, Sloan Estate, Checkerboard Vineyards, and formerly Harlan Estate.
The labels feature unique, original artwork each vintage, featuring toy-inspired designs.
2012 ToyMaker Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2012 growing season offered dry weather conditions and moderate temperatures. The few spells of high heat that were interspersed throughout allowed for an optimal ripening of the fruit and full maturation of the tannins. Harvest came at a leisurely pace, which allowed the grapes to be picked at the most ideal circumstances possible. The resulting wines are succulent, bursting with ripe flavors, and seamless in their balance and purity.
On the nose, the 2012 ToyMaker has hints of warm cherry tart, ripe fig, baking spice, and fresh lavender. The palette is rich with sweet tannins, luscious red and black fruits, cream de cassis, and candied almonds. The moderate alcohol levels and slightly higher acidity lend a delightfully charming character of bright finesse, mouth-watering fruit, and a finish of on-going layers and length.
2013 ToyMaker Cabernet Sauvignon
95 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
A warm, dry spring in 2013 led to an earlier than usual bud break. On through bloom and into mid-summer, temperatures were slightly erratic, ranging from uncharacteristically warm to sometimes quite cold. Shortly before veraison, these fluctuations calmed, providing an ideal uniformity of daytime temperatures and just about as close to a perfect weather pattern as one can get. Lasting through color, flavor development and on into a stunning harvest, it is to these conditions that attribute to the densely concentrated flavors, fully mature seeds, and supple skin tannins that have made the 2013 vintage receive such high accolades.
Dark ruby red in the glass and with aromas of dark berry confection, dried dates, musky spice, and pure cacao, the 2013 ToyMaker is a blend of true pleasures. The mouth is one of an ever-evolving intensity that continues to divulge layer upon layer of rich flavors of dark chocolate, slow roasted almonds, fruit compote, and savory blackberry jam. The wine finishes ever so seductively with its mineral purity, velvety seamlessness, and a seemingly unending presentation of an exotic and densely fruit driven structure.
2014 ToyMaker Cabernet Sauvignon
92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
For the third year in a row, the superb growing season of 2014 ushered in a vintage that surpassed expectations. Late February rains, on the heels of one of the driest winters on record, gave way to a surprisingly early bud break and an advantageously long period for the grapes to mature and ripen. Spring’s brisk bloom was followed quickly by moderate summer temperatures ranging on average between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit—optimal conditions for producing wines of great depth, concentration and rich, ripe tannins. Conditions remained consistent and favorable throughout the summer and up to veraison, leading to a stunningly bountiful harvest of flawless and fully matured fruit.
The 2014 ToyMaker is the culminating taste of this unique and extraordinary vintage. Like the long growing season itself, luscious, ripe, red fruit notes draw a seamless thread of distinguished flavor and texture across the palate, leaving a long, powerfully dense and opulent finish indicative of beautifully matured supple skin tannins.
2015 ToyMaker Cabernet Sauvignon
94 points, Virginie Boone
The hot and dry conditions of the 2015 growing season, coinciding with the fourth of what would become a six-year-long drought in California, resulted in an uncharacteristically low crop yield of exceptionally high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon fruit. Early season above-average temperatures gave way to a consistently warm and long summer, leading to an earlier-than-usual ripening of the grapes. This, along with very little rain throughout the growing season, allowed the grape skins to mature and thicken, resulting in wines of great depth, concentration, smooth tannins, and moderate acidity, making the wine ideal for aging.
The 2015 ToyMaker Cabernet Sauvignon was made by winemaker Martha McClellan from 100% Diamond Mountain District fruit. It was barrel-fermented and aged for 28 months in all new French oak, with an additional 24 months of bottle aging. This wine is exquisitely balanced, providing a lush burst of ripe red fruit on the front palate, velvety tannins that unfold across the midpalate revealing exceptional structure and depth, and a dense and lasting finish.
2016 ToyMaker Cabernet Sauvignon
93+ points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
The outstanding 2016 growing season was marked by hot and dry weather but no prolonged extremes or heat spikes. Their flagship wine, the 2016 ToyMaker was aged 28 months in new French oak prior to bottling and, with an 18 additional months of bottle aging prior to release, is already hitting its stride as it enters the early portion of its lengthy drinking window.
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2016 ToyMaker soars out of the glass with lifted scents of wild blueberries, Morello cherries, boysenberries and blackcurrant preserves followed by nuances of red roses, underbrush, pencil shavings, Indian spices and tilled soil. The full-bodied palate is rich and hedonic, delivering lovely freshness to counter all those decadent spiced black and blue fruit preserves flavors and plush tannins, finishing long and perfumed.