by Alyssa Taylor

Tucked away amongst the hills of Santa Ynez Valley lies Melville, a family-owned winery dedicated to producing exceptional cool-climate wines including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.

Founded in 1989, Melville still operates as a family-owned, all estate winery with its roots in Sonoma County’s Knights Valley, where Ron Melville grew high-quality and greatly sought-after grapes. In 1996, Ron’s desire to grow cold-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah brought Melville Vineyards to the Sta. Rita Hills, located in the Western Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County. Today, Ron and his son, Chad Melville, uphold Melville’s tradition as one of the most highly-regarded estates in California.

I had the pleasure of getting to know head winemaker, Chad Melville, while I worked under him for a harvest last year. During my time at Melville, not only was I able to learn their grape growing process and winemaking style, but I grew profound respect for how their nurture their land, vines and fruit in order to maintain the purest expression of each possible. Melville places great importance on being an “estate” winery, meaning they work exclusively with fruit from vineyards that they own and tend to themselves, in addition to controlling all aspects of making and selling their wines. Talk about attention to detail!

Their estate currently has 17 clones of Pinot Noir, 8 clones of Syrah, and 8 clones of Chardonnay – all on a variety of low-vigor rootstocks. All vineyard blocks are fermented in small lots and isolated through their entire period of elevage (procession of the wine from fermentation to bottle), which provides the Melville team with an ongoing exhibition of how they can fine-tune vineyard practices in order to achieve the most un-manipulated and site-specific wines possible. This is a serious small production, responsible-farming, minimal intervention winemaking.

When I asked Chad 5 key terms to describe Melville, he responded “Organic, Boutique, Hand-made, Winegrower, Over-deliver.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. What more could you ask for than good juice that’s good for you.

Drink responsibly, my friends. Cheers!

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