Where do Napa winemakers dine out? 

For many Napa Valley visitors, the revelation is not the wine; it’s the food. With scores of restaurants featuring farm-to-table (and sea-to-table) ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong when dining out.

But where do the folks who make Napa’s wines go for special occasions, or just a burger and (gasp) a beer? Where might visitors bump into their favorite winemaker?

We asked eight vintners to cite special-occasion and casual spots — and where they hang with their vinous homies.

The most-touted hangout: Rutherford Grill’s bar for lunch and late afternoon. If you don’t encounter a famous winemaking face while dining, at least you know that the food will be stellar.

Philippe Melka
Owner/winemaker of Melka Wines, owner of Atelier Melka Wine Consulting Company

Special occasion: “Whenever we go to Press, we know we are in for a treat. Sommeliers Kelli White and Scott Brenner always impress me with their recommendations, (and) Press has one of the most comprehensive wine lists in Napa with a number of rare older vintages/special bottles.”

Must-have menu item: “the truffle mac and cheese and bacon platter.”

Casual: “Goose and Gander is one of my favorite places to hang out and have a cocktail at the end of the day.”

Must-have menu item: “You can’t beat their burger and octopus salad.”

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Le Pan - The Art of Fine Wine Living
Out of The Shadows 

With his own label and winery in the works, Philippe Melka finally takes the spotlight.

Over the past 20 years, Philippe Melka has consulted on dozens of top labels—including Dana Estates, Vineyard 29, Lail, and Brand. He has received several 100-point scores from The Wine Advocate and been named by Robert Parker as one of the top nine wine consultants in the world.

Melka has established a reputation as a soil whisperer, a brilliant blender, and a titan of terroir. He uses data and analytics to get the most out of every one of his sites. But because he has spent most of his career making wines for other people, few—if any—consumers seem to even know the guy’s name.

This is about to change...

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Napa Sonoma Magazine
Unicorn Hunting in Napa 

... That afternoon the Valley came alive with preview parties. From Napa Town to Calistoga, Howell Mountain to Spring Mountain, the Premiere Napa Valley wines were poured along with current and future releases, in the hopes of attracting buzz. Can you believe that Mekerra sauvignon blanc by Melka? Did you try the Fairchild Sigaro-—it’s a Melka. One name kept coming up.

Legendary winemaker Philippe Melka’s portrait dots the auction book 11 times—like the kid in the high school yearbook who was in every club. At an unofficial portfolio tasting later that day, I found out why ...

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VEGAS seven
Philippe Melka's "Winemaker Boot Camp" Featured in Marin Magazine 

Philippe Melka is one of the top winemakers in the world, but for three days this spring he might as well be your new best friend. Twice a year Melka and his wife, Cherie, host a three-day insider experience called Winemaker Boot Camp that includes an intimate look at the Melka way of life, including a wine reception at their home, dinners with the couple at St. Helena’s Press and the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood, early morning vineyard tours and a winemaking class with Melka himself. The boot camp kicks off April 19 (just in time for the growing season’s bud break), but sign up now, as space is limited to 10 people. $10,000 per person; for more information call 707.963.6008. S.T

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Marin Magazine
Philippe Melka featured in just released "Wines of California" 

by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen

Bordeaux-born and -educated, Philippe Melka is a winemaker and winemaking consultant. His client list includes Vineyard 29, Quintessa, and Seavey, for which he makes well-regarded and High-scoring wines. He also makes wines under his eponymous label, Melka Wines, with his wife, Cherie.

How did you get involved in the world of wine?

I was born and raised in Bordeaux, intrigued by the land around me. When it came time for college, I acted on my childhood interests and studied geology at the University of Bordeaux. A class in winemaking propelled me to earn my master’s degree from the school in agronomy and enology.


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Wines of California