Where Harmony = Art + Science + Hope

Catchy name, right? For those who know their history, the year 1215 was an important one in writing the charter of liberties. In Runnymede, a small meadow on the banks of the River Thames not far from London, a parchment drawn up in Latin and signed by King John changed everything.

Eight centuries later, that place and that moment, now  known  as  “the  birthplace of modern democracy,” was the inspiration for David Choi, proprietor, in naming Magna Carta Cellars  in  Napa  Valley.  “I love creating something original. There’s nothing formulaic going on here. For my amazing partners and me, it’s the art, the stories, and the people that go  into  what we make together from the phenomenal grapes that Napa produces.” Choi is proud to work in harmony alongside skilled wine- makers Peter Heinz and Scott Palazzo, on a team he says are “in sync with the vision of a top-level Bordeaux wine profile.”

A deep love and respect for Bordeaux have played an important role in David Choi’s life.  In  2012,  he  was  inducted   into Jurade of Saint Emilion, the region’s oldest wine society. He was later awarded “L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole” by the French Ambassador and the Republic  of  France for his important work with French wines, French winemakers, and the notable terroir. As there are only 60 living U.S. recipients  of this distinction that traces its origins to 1883, he explained more about the journey that led him to receive this honor.

magna carta

Determining early on  that  continuing in an investment banking career was not the right path, Choi stumbled upon his happy place. It turned out to be Pearson’s Wine & Spirits, established in 1933, a  highly reputable Washington, D.C. wine shop. Eventually, his family acquired the business and roster of loyal customers who wanted to learn more about good wine. As  a wine merchant, importer, and wholesaler enamored of high-quality French wines, Choi regularly traveled to the source vineyards, connecting with legendary winemakers, forming friendships, and then showcasing the wines in major cities across the USA.

Choi has always been driven by intellectual curiosity and the natural gift of a very good palette. “I was tasting 30 to 40 wines per day. Much as I loved it, at one point, I realized that I was not going to be a retailer forever.”

Leaving Pearson’s in good hands, Choi returned to his native California, where he believes Napa promises “world-class, phenomenal grapes.” For Magna Carta Cellars, these are carefully selected from  among  the finest vineyards in Oakville, Carneros, and Stags Leap, which Choi defines as “very, very strong for Left Bank-style Cabernet-based wines that resemble the best of Bordeaux and can be launched in just four to five years.” As for 2021, “We’re always at the mercy of the grapes, said  Choi. “That’s where the hope comes in.”




Article By: Laurie Jo Miller Farr