Philippe & Cherie Melka~ Owners
As co-proprietors and winemakers for Melka Estates, Philippe and Cherie produce four distinct brands that reflect their philosophy of soil driven wines: Métisse from Napa Valley, Mekerra from Sonoma Valley, Majestique from sites around the world and CJ, also from Napa Valley.
The pedigree for both Philippe and Cherie is indeed impressivle. Philippe having degrees in Geology, Agronomy and Enology; and Cherie in Microbiology from the US and a diploma in French Studies from the University of Bordeaux III.
Philippe learned winemaking and vineyard techniques from prestigious estates such as Haut Brion, Chittering Estate, Badio O Coltibuono, the Moueix domains and Dominus. Cherie being a self-taught enologist gaining her wine knowledge from equally impressive estates such as Ridge Vineyards, Beaulieu and Silver Oak Cellars. Their combined science backgrounds and extensive experience in the industry make them a perfect team in their winemaking endeavors.
The beginnings of the brand started in 1996, after Philippe and Cherie had just moved back to Napa Valley from France. They decided that they too would love to be producing their own label, despite each working for different wineries. They started modestly with only two wines in 1996, Métisse and CJ for a total case production of 500.
The organic growth that ensued over two decades has resulted in them having two estate vineyards, their own winery and ten distinctive wines in their portfolio. They work side by side using their strengths and knowledge to decide harvest dates, fermentation protocols, maceration length, barrel regime and final blends before bottling.
What’s next for the Melkas? Most certainly any development that will either improve wine quality or guest experience. They are a down-to-earth couple that sees the fun and joy in every undertaking.
Sylvie Laly ~ Sales & Brand Director
Born in France and raised in the family restaurant business, Sylvie started as a sommelier at Pierre Orsy in Lyon but decided to expand her horizons to learn about California wines in the early 1980’s. What she discovered was that northern California was the missing puzzle piece to her life.
From humble beginnings with the Robert Mondavi “Great Chef” program to managing Zuni café in San Francisco, Sylvie decided to move to Los Angeles and work for Chef Joachim Splichal and Chef Fred Eric. She ultimately opened her own restaurant Bouchon Bistro Lyonnais with partner Sam Perrigo. The birth of her daughter energized Sylvie to return to Napa Valley where she worked with Donna and Giovanni Scala before becoming Winery Sales Director for Riedel for seven years.
In 2013, Sylvie joined Melka Estates as Director of Sales and Brand Manager. She works alongside Philippe and Cherie on many blending sessions, strategic branding decisions and of course welcoming visitors for private tastings at the Estate. An integral part of the Melka team, there are no limits to the numerous hats she wears for the company. From forklift driver, to harvest grape sorter, to traveling the country for sales, she is versatile and always willing to learn more and lend a hand where needed.
The Melka Team is small but mighty!