Historic Merryvale Vineyards

Historic Merryvale Vineyards

One of my favorite stops on our tour of Napa Valley last week was Merryvale Winery, in the heart of downtown St. Helena. Originally named Sunny St. Helena, it was the first winery built in Napa Valley (1933) after prohibition was repealed.

entrance to tasting room

Walking past their grand fountain and vintage grape-crushing wheels, we were warmly greeted by Laurence Schlatter, whose family owns the winery. Just before we entered the building, the Napa Valley Wine Train  chugged past in picture-postcard perfect beauty. Hollywood couldn’t have created a more perfect image. Right then, I decided I had to wanted to live in Napa Valley.

Napa Wine Train, old grape crushing wheels 

Behind the red velvet drapery and iron gates… Laurence ushered us into the magnificent and cavernous Cask Room, the heart of the winery… which quite literally took my breath away. A lavish dining table runs down the center of the room, complete with statuesque candelabra’s… which added a magical quality to the room.

This room exuded drama, which I adored!!

Flanking the inside doorway are the two 22,000 gallon redwood barrels that the Cask Room was originally built to hold. In 1994, the one to the left of the entrance was transformed into the Barrel Room and is available for private tastings. Merryvale is anticipating more renovations to make the enormous barrel on the right, available for tastings as well.

Bluewaiki Photo

The Stone walls of the Cask Room are now dramatically lined with rare and magnificent, century-old, 2,000 gallon oak casks. The casks are no longer used to hold wine, but the aroma and rich history, still permeate the grand hall.

Merryvale Winery Cask Room
Fascinating to see first hand, their new world fermentation systems, even more fun was getting down to the important job of tasting wine! We had a total blast lot of fun sampling vintages with Jason, Merryvale’s Winery Chef who showed us throughout the rest of their impressive facility. It’s a relaxing treat to spend an afternoon with good friends, touring such a well run winery.
It was mid day when we headed over to an inviting covered porch for a catered lunch from Gott’s, arranged  by the ever lovely Charlotte Milan, who also helped coordinate our visit to several wineries. Every meal was yet another opportunity to sample an appropriately matched Merryvale wine…life was near perfect! The table atmosphere was made even more stylish with a scattering of rose petals and blossoms, complimenting the warm breezes and delicious Merryvale wine. 

I bought some of their delicious Chardonnay while  I was there…but I also spotted and bought their Olive Oil.  Grown on the steeper, rocky areas of their property, these Spanish variety trees produce oil with outstanding flavor. It’s perfect for dipping crusty French Bread in.

The first night home from Napa Valley, Kevin and I made an entire meal of Merryvale Chardonnay, Merryvale olive oil, crusty French Bread and Blue Cheese. Not exactly dietetic… but outstanding!

Special thanks to my dear friend Adrienne for arranging this entire adventure!!

I must admit I was not aware of the special history and wines of Merryvale Vineyards before this tour. I’m now totally smitten with their operation and wines. I can also admit to checking into real estate listings for the area since my trip. 
Have you toured Napa Wineries and which are your favorite?

Disclosure:  Our tour and tasting at Merryvale Vineyards were complimentary as was our lunch which was provided by C. Milan Communications.  All opinions are my own.  

Image 1 via Merryvale Pinterest    Photo of barrels courtesy of  Bluewaikiki 

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