Jamie Gall

Yorkville Cellars Review

Every time I drive by Yorkville Cellars on my way to visit Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, this adorable winery puts a smile on my face. It is such a welcome after the hour-long drive from Sonoma County to the back roads of Anderson Valley.

The winery is in the perfect place as it’s one of the first wineries you’ll hit on your drive to Anderson Valley. Although, this winery is a part of the Yorkville Highlands AVA, it’s adorableness will make you want to stop in. And, if the picturesque winery doesn’t make you stop, the signs out front saying, “Pouring Bubbles Today” or “Serving Orange Wine” today just might.

It’s also the only winery in the area that grows and produces all 8 Bordeaux Varietals!

I’d driven by this winery many times, but never stopped until recently, and it left quite the impression on me. As you pull in and walk into the winery be sure to keep an eye out for their winery cat, Slate, who is very open to pets and love as you visit.

Let’s break it down for you as to why this winery is a GREAT place to visit by looking at: Atmosphere, The Wine, Price & Availability, and the Experiences!

1) Atmosphere

This winery gets you from the minute you first lay eyes on it, its picturesque winery that looks like a house out in the country surrounded by vineyards is very appealing to the eye. As you walk up the stairs to the tasting room you’ll look back out through the vineyards and take in the scenic views. It’s quite the site, and changes seasonally.

Once inside, you’ll walk up to the tasting bar to enjoy your tasting or enjoy your wine outdoors with a picnic. It’s a great stopping point on your drive to Anderson Valley or the Mendocino Coast.

2) The Wine

The winery is the only one in the area that grows and produces all 8 grape varietals of Bordeaux, and they have an extensive list of wines available.

They’re also not afraid to try new things. A few wines that caught me by surprise were a Sparkling Malbec Brut Rose, Semillon, a Rose made from Petit Verdot, and their Amber Folly, a white wine produced just like a Red Wine. Yep, this White Wine is fermented 10 days with its skins on giving it an orange color to the wine. Also, don’t forget to try their Sweet Malbec, it goes down like juice, with only half the sugar as a typical Late Harvest wine! Their twist on trying new things was refreshing to see!

3) Price & Availability

Their wines are only available at the winery, but it is truly worth a visit. Bottles range anywhere from $20 dollars to $46 dollars a bottle! Very affordable!

Also, their tastings are complimentary, no tasting fee at all, unless you’re looking to do a reserved wine tasting then you’ll pay a nominal fee to try more of their specialized wines.

4) Experiences

They are very open to accommodating your tasting needs. No reservations are needed for Complimentary tastings.

However, they have some focused and Private Tasting Experiences available with reservations:

Organic Vineyard Tour & Tasting: 25 Dollars Per Person

Founder/owner Edward or Deborah will lead you through their vineyards planted to eight varietals originating in Bordeaux.

Then sit down under ancient oaks trees or on antique love seats indoors. Enjoy a reserve tasting including ten or more of their current release wines accompanied by charcuterie and cheese selection. All are acclaimed artisan wines, hand crafted in small lots and difficult to find outside their tasting room. Learn the story of each wine within sight of the vines that they are made from.

Progressive Picnic in Our Vineyards: $35 Dollars Per Person

With a founder/owner, Edward or Deborah Wallo, take a tour through their organic vineyards planted to eight varietals originating in Bordeaux. At various stops you will be served an appetizer paired with wine from vines you are looking at.

After the tour, you will head back to the tasting room to enjoy a tasting of 10 wines indoors or outdoors with your choosing!

Organic Vineyard Tour and Play, “Name that Varietal.” $45 Dollars Per Person

Tour the ranch with an owner/founder, Edward or Deborah Wallo, and learn about organic farming as you pass through the vineyards planted to eight Bordeaux varietals. Winter visitors may be accompanied on their stroll by a flock of sheep or in the summer you might be invited to release ladybugs or measure grape sugars.

Your private tasting will start with several of their white wines. Next, to discover the unique differences among the Noble Reds, you’ll be able taste their current releases Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and the lesser-cultivated Petit Verdot and Carménère. All varietals are grown side by side in the same vineyard, making this a unique experience. Throughout your tasting you will be served a variety of tasty small bites to pair with the wines.

If you like, select a “blind” tasting called “Name That Varietal.” We introduce them in an enjoyable board game. On the table in front of you are glasses with a red wine in each. Now, which wine is which varietal? The tasting can be quite a challenge indeed! But this is the best and most fun way to learn about wine. Once you’ve decided which varietals you prefer, we’ll dip into our wine library covering over 20 vintages and let you sample a few aged wines.

The grand finale is of their Richard the Lion-Heart, a meritage wine blend that has all 6 Noble Reds which is the result of their numerous blending trial sessions.

5) Perks of Joining Their Wine Club

Four times each year – shipped in the first week of: March, May, September and November, you will receive a sample pack of three different new wines before they become available to the public in their tasting room.

Their normal maximum discount is 10% on a case of 12 bottles. Hi-Rollrs receive a minimum discount of 20% on the retail bottled price on all sample shipments and any orders of current release wines, even if the order is less than a case. There are two other club level options which earn higher discounts.

They are reserving some of their outstanding vintages and when they have reached full maturity, they will be re-released to their wine club members. Exclusively available to their wine club members are larger sized bottles (3 liter) of our premium wines.

Have you been to Yorkville Cellars? Has it left an impression on you like it did for me?

Merryvale Vineyards Review

A sign of a good winery is always the impression it leaves on you after a visit! This was the exact case after visiting Merryvale Vineyards in Napa Valley recently (St. Helena, to be exact!)
Truthfully, I’ve driven by Merryvale Vineyards numerous times the past few years, however, never stopped. From the outside, the winery looks very normal and ordinary, nothing stood out, but surprisingly, this was not the case from the moment you walked inside.

Lets break down the winery by the four characteristics below: Atmosphere, The Wine, Price & Availability, and Experiences offered at the Winery.

1) Atmosphere

From your first arrival, attendants behind the tasting room may greet you, this was the exact case for us, Manny, our tasting room host greeted us upon arrival and introduced us to our first glass of wine, their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, he welcomed us and encouraged us to walk around the tasting room to enjoy the sites, and mentioned their event room to explore and any photo ops were truly encouraged.

There were numerous seating areas throughout the tasting room for fun couches to take photos with, to tables and chairs where you could enjoy your tastings at, along with seating around the tasting bar.

The day we were there, it was quite quiet, perks of visiting during the off season, but the later in the day it gets, the busier the winery gets, as well especially during the weekends!

2) The Wine

The most important part, right? When in Napa, there are truly 3 wine varietals to look for: Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, however, keep your eyes on other varietals offered, as well.

At Merryvale, they offer the 3 Big Varietals mentioned above along with others: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah and their Dessert Wine: an Antigua Dessert Wine (Muscat de Frontignan) that has been aged in Oak Barrels for decades, averaging 35 years! They also have a Late Harvest Riesling that they do, as well.

All the wines were truly good, but their standouts were truly the BIG 3 varietals: Chardonnay from the Carneros Region, their Caberenet Sauvignon, and of course, their Merlot, which is such a steal at 50 dollars a bottle!

3) Price and Availability

For a winery in Napa Valley, the prices at Merryvale are actually quite reasonable. Wines range from as low as $30 dollars a bottle up to $115 dollars a bottle! 50 Dollars for a bottle of Napa Valley Merlot is a steal, along with their $65 dollar bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Merryvale Chardonnay runs right around $35 dollars a bottle!

4) Experiences

Although reservations are not required for a tasting, they’re highly recommended when planning your Napa Valley getaway! A classic tasting inside the tasting room is 30 Dollars. They also have a Reserve Tasting available for 50 Dollars per person that will walk you through their more limited wines.

And for a special and one of a kind experience, they have 2 unique experiences: Their Wine And Cheese Pairing, which I highly recommend ( see photo below) where you are walked through their Merryvale Wines paired with locally crafted cheeses that pair nicely with the wines. This experience costs $55 Dollars per person.

Their Library Profile Tasting will walk you through a tasting of their Classic Merryvale Wines paired alongside with 3 of the library vintages. A $125 Dollars per person and recommended for luxury wine lovers and collectors.

5) Perks of Being a Wine Club Member

Everyone enjoys a good wine club, below are the listed benefits of joining Merryvale Vineyards Wine Club below:
Access to limited releases, library selections and exclusive offers.
Shipping fees included on all orders.
Customized Club Shipments
10% discount on current and Club releases.
20% discount on case purchases during Club shipment months.
Complimentary seated tasting in our Wine Club Lounge with artisanal cheese selections.
Invitations to special events such as Lobster Feeds, Harvest Dinners, Holiday Dinners, New Year’s Eve Parties, and more!