I work at Starmont winery, which is located in Carneros at the southern end of the Napa Valley. Starmont is owned by Merryvale Vineyards located in St. Helena in northern Napa Valley. Merryvale is the home office of the company and it’s also the public face of the winery. While most of the wine is made in Starmont that winery is closed to the public.
Christine and I made a recent trip up to St. Helena for a tasting at Merryvale. Some of my few readers may know I’ve been working at the cellar in Starmont this past harvest but may be curious about the wine I’ve been helping to make. The upshot is that Merryvale makes some excellent wine. Now, of course, I’m not going to be bashing my employer on this blog, but I can say that in all honesty everything Merryvale makes is good. Christine especially enjoyed the Merryvale Sauvignon Blanc. Both of us loved Profile, Merryvale’s premier wine. This is a Cabernet based blend featuring Merlot, Petit Verdot and some Cabernet Franc. It is just delicious with layers of dark fruit, a wonderful mouth feel and a long, pleasant finish. I also really enjoyed Silhouette, Merryvale’s top Chardonny. This wine is unfiltered and a solid, traditional California Chardonny. An unexpected treasure was the winery’s Antigua dessert wine, which is a Muscat de Frontignan that has a complex taste followed by an almost dry finish. I really don’t often like dessert wines because of the lingering sweetness that coats your palate, but because of its different finish I loved the Antigua.
The tasting room is large and has a relaxing feel to it. Merryvale is also open until 6:30 p.m. making it one of the last wineries in Napa to close for the day. This means it’s the last stop for many tasting parties and so you may see some folks, as we did, who have gone way past wine tasting and have moved on to wine guzzling. But that’s something you’ll see at any winery’s tasting room and sometimes you’ll even see it early in the day rather than later.
As one of the older wineries in Napa, Merryvale has a historic feel, which is emphasized by the cask room. This gorgeous banquet hall has as an old world, European feel and while I don’t believe it has any winemaking purpose any more it’s very popular for special occasions and is used by the winery for events for wine club members.
It was great to take a moment and sample the finished wines because it gave me a better sense into what I’m doing at the winery these days. The staff member who served us at the bar was friendly and it was great talking to someone in the company who worked up in St. Helena. (And you got to love the 50 percent off employee discount!)
Even if I wasn’t employed by Merryvale, I think our visit would still prompt a whole-hearted recommendation to include Merryvale on a Napa tasting itinerary.