Bordeaux immigrant Jean Laurent came to California in 1852 to seek gold but instead founded one of the first wineries in Napa Valley. Laurent built his Napa winery in 1874, which started as a modest wooden structure. Business was good and in 1879 he built a stone cellar that is the heart of our present-day winery. Laurent was one of the largest producers of the California wine boom in the 1880s. In those days, wines were sold in bulk and shipped by train to the east coast. After Laurent’s death in 1890, the winery continued operating under a succession of owners. Bruce Markham arrived in the Napa Valley almost 100 years later, and like Laurent, he was looking to start a winery. He purchased vineyards in Yountville, Oak Knoll, and Calistoga and later the old Laurent winery, which was operating under the United Vintners (Heublein) at the time. In 1978, he founded Markham Vineyards and the old Laurent winery was reborn. In its early days Markham focused on Cabernet Sauvignon and introduced the first Markham Merlot with the 1980 vintage. From 1978 to 1988 the winery’s production increased from 3,500 cases to 20,000 cases. The wine quality and praise from wine critics and consumers increased as well. In 1988, the old Laurent Winery once again opened a new chapter of its long distinguished life. The winery was sold to Mercian Corporation and began an ambitious renovation, expansion and vineyard-replanting program. These efforts would more than double the capacity and make Markham one of the most advanced, stunning winemaking facilities in the country. Even through the dust of the renovation, Markham was able to produce three of the number-one rated wines from California, as judged by Wine Spectator magazine.