Mike and Mary Ann McNally were born only a few blocks apart from one another in Omaha, Nebraska. Though they knew of one another in high school—Mike at Creighton Prep and Mary Ann at Duchesne—it wasn’t until their freshman psychology class at Creighton University that they began dating and later married.
After 22 years in Texas, their lives took a turn. “I found myself without a job, and Mary Ann told me she wanted to move to Oregon and plant grapes,” Mike explained. “I said ok.” Thus, Fairsing Vineyard was born west of Portland in the prestigious Willamette Valley. Mary Ann preferred pinot noir wines, and Mike preferred cabernet, but his wife converted him. “Marriage is give and take,” Mary Ann said.
Fairsing winemaker Robert Brittan, an Oregon native who studied at UC Davis, served as the winemaker for two prestigious Napa Valley producers, Far Niente and Stags’ Leap, before moving back to Oregon. At Fairsing, Brittan crafts all-estate wines that reflect the terroir of the McNally’s vineyard and the legacy they hope to leave behind—a legacy focused on family.
The “Matriarch” series of wines is intended to be a part of that rich family legacy by honoring the women who are the eponyms of these artisan Pinot noirs. “We name them after our mothers and grandmothers,” explained Mike. “Sullivan is named for my grandmother, Winifred, a red-haired Irish lady, very vivacious and sassy. The wine reflects her character.” The most recent Matriarch is Claire Kenney, named after Mike’s late mother and is an earthy mid-palate wine. “It’s friendly, like my mother was,” Mike said fondly.
Fairsing Vineyard produces only 3,000 cases of wine annually. There are only two states where you can purchase these wines: Oregon and Nebraska. In Omaha, Fairsing wines are available at Corkscrew Wine & Cheese, J. Coco, Old Vine Wine & Spirits, Pacific Cellars, Twisted Cork Bistro, V. Mertz, and Vino Mas.
Mike and Mary Ann’s oldest son was in school at Brown University when the couple traveled to Rhode Island to meet the young lady who is now his wife. When Mike and Mary Ann mentioned to her that they needed a name for the vineyard they intended to plant, she offered “Fairsing,” which is Gaelic for bountiful, plentiful, and abundance. It was perfect. “We feel that’s what our lives are,” said Mike.