McClain Cellars is the toast of Irvine

Jason McClain sold his tech companies to start McClain Cellars, a winery headquartered in Irvine.

Jason McClain was on the verge of signing a multimillion-dollar contract for his own syndicated talk show.

Pen in hand, he looked at his wife, Sofia, and told her he couldn’t do it.

It was the summer of 2016, and they were sitting in their motor home, among the trees of Sequoia National Forest, their three daughters playing nearby.

He and Sofia had long loved wine tasting, traveling to vineyards by air and land and amassing 1,000 bottles for their private wine collection. The plan was to one day buy a vineyard after he retired from his technology companies.

But why wait, he asked his wife that day in the forest.

“I’m with you 110 percent,” she said.

So they took the contract and threw it on their campfire. Then he set about selling his companies. And he founded McClain Cellars, setting up shop in the Irvine Spectrum District.

Choosing Irvine for his headquarters and warehouse was a no-brainer, McClain says.

“For one, we wanted a safe community to store our goods. And Irvine is the safest city out there.”

He was also keen to work with the Irvine Company.

“You need to work with people who understand there are people behind the business,” he says. “And an Irvine address for the headquarters was necessary because that defines professionalism and a standard of excellence.”

Today, McClain Cellars is growing faster than the couple had imagined.

In addition to 500 wine club members, McClain Cellars is opening its fourth tasting lounge (with two in Orange County) and recently signed a deal with Pavilions to distribute its wine.

McClain attributes its success to not just its blends, but the wines’ authenticity.

“Every wine has a story,” he says.

They name each wine after a significant event in their lives. They then hire artists to create a unique painting for each label. One cabernet is called Three Daughters, for instance. Purpose Road is named for the McClains’ journey.