Sprouting from the repeal of Prohibition
The first winery built in the Napa Valley following the repeal of Prohibition, Merryvale is located in the heart of America’s premier wine region. Graced with a European fountain and formal grounds, the historic winery is just a short stroll from downtown St. Helena. Its historic Cask Room is a great spot for food and wine pairing.
Merryvale Vineyards brought together a partnership consisting of Bill Harlan, the late Peter Stocker and John Montgomery — these three having established the prestigious Meadowood Resort – and Robin Lail, daughter of acclaimed Inglenook owner John Daniel, who, today, owns and operates Lail Vineyards.
The winery was named after the Merryvale building in San Francisco. The brand initially introduced a Bordeaux style red wine from purchased fruit with the 1983 vintage. The winery subsequently also produced chardonnay, merlot and a white Meritage wine.
Named California "Winery of the Year" for 2009
by Quarterly Review of Wines
Early on, Ric Forman served as winemaker, succeeded by Bob Levy, who currently runs a couple of winemaking operations for Harlan.
The property, though, is much older as it was one of the first wineries to open following the repeal of Prohibition. In 1933, Jack Riorda and Charles Forni expanded Riorda’s winery and created Sunnyhill Winery, which was later changed to Sunny St. Helena, and purchased by Mondavi family patriarch Cesare (prior to the family’s acquisition of Charles Krug). After many owners, in 1971, it was bought by the Christian Brothers and used for storage.
A decade ago, the Merryvale operation was purchased by Jack Schlatter and family, with son, Rene, serving as company president.
After the Schlatter family bought it, they renovated the facility and started making wine under two labels: Merryvale and Starmont. Sean Foster is Merryvale’s senior winemaker, and is joined by winemaker Graham Wehmeier.
The new owner’s second winery, Starmont, is located on the historic Stanly Ranch in Carneros where John Stanly planted one of the first vineyards in Carneros in 1872. This green winery is powered by the sun.
Today the Merryvale/Starmont wine operation produces around 100,000 cases of hand-crafted wine a year, including sauvignon blanc, viognier, chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah, cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and a refreshing Stanly Ranch Rosé, as well as other special, large format and limited bottlings.
Black cherries and cassis are the hallmarks of the Merryvale 2008 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, a blend of vineyard fruit to point up the generous mouthfeel and lingering berry finish.
Named Best New World Chardonnay/Best of Varietal/Best of Class and receiving a Platinum Medal at the 2011 Jerry Mead New World International Wine Competition, the 2009 Starmont chardonnay offers intense aromas of mandarin orange, fresh pear and melon, while the mouthfeel is round and fleshy with a long layered finish.
"How the season to date will affect the timing of harvest is anyone's guess ..." David Wilson, viticulturist.
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