Philippe Melka

Like the celebrated wines on which he’s built his reputation, Philippe Melka’s career has been influenced by soil.

A native of Bordeaux, Melka grew up intrigued by the intricacies of the land around him. When it came time for college, he acted on his childhood interests, earning a degree in Geology at the University of Bordeaux. A class in winemaking in his final year was a turning point, propelling him to earn a Master’s degree in Agronomy and Enology.

Melka has the rare combination of talent and fortune to be a winemaker who started at the top: his first job out of school was at Château Haut Brion. From there, he took a position with the reputable Moueix Company and was sent to Dominus Estate in Yountville to study soils in 1991. Napa Valley soil proved to be a revelation for Melka. He set out traveling, dividing time between soil study and winemaking at world renowned wineries Badio O Coltibuono in Chianti and Chittering Estate in Australia. He returned to France in 1993 to deepen his expertise at Chateau Petrus.

He has been fortunate to have been trained and influenced by some of the most notable personalities in the wine business such as Jean Delmas and Jean Philippe Masclef from Haut-Brion, Christian Moueix and Jean Claude Berrouet from Petrus, Paul Draper from Ridge, Daniel Baron from Silver Oak and the globetrotting wine consultant Michel Rolland with whom he continues to work with on consulting projects..

In 1994, he returned to Napa full time, and for the past 20 years, Melka has served as winemaking consultant for some of Napa’s most highly regarded properties under his company Atelier Melka founded in 1995. As co-proprietor of Melka Estates, Philippe and Cherie produce four distinct labels that reflect their philosophy of soil driven wines: Metisse from Napa Valley, Mekerra from Sonoma Valley, Majestique from around the world and CJ, also from Napa Valley.



Cherie Melka

Having earned her degree in Microbiology at Northern Arizona University, Cherie was ready to begin her working life and California had always held a soft spot in her heart.  After spending six years working as a laboratory technician for two medical microbiological companies, her interest in the science behind the process of making wine caused her to switch to another sector within her field.  She was fortunate enough to have obtained a position with Ridge Vineyards in 1989.

For five years, she ran the laboratory at Ridge Vineyards as the enologist, working under the direction of legendary winemaker Paul Draper. It was during this time, that she gained an in depth understanding of all things related to production.  Participating in all the blending and tasting sessions refined her palate. In 1991, she met the intern at Dominus Estate – Philippe Melka. They set out for Europe together and in 1994 she earned a diploma in French Studies from the University of Bordeaux III.

Returning as newlyweds to California in 1994, she worked with Beaulieu Vineyards in Quality Control and then as Laboratory Manager with Silver Oak Cellars.  While working at Silver Oak, she also co-founded Melka Estates and for several years managed both ventures.  The time came in 2001 for Cherie to dedicate her efforts to the success of their company.  She handles all things related to running the company – CEO, CFO, marketing decisions and sales strategies.  But also participates in all blending decisions related to the production of their portfolio of wines.

Under Melka Estates, Philippe and Cherie produce four distinct labels that reflect their philosophy of soil driven wines:  Metisse from Napa Valley, Mekerra from Sonoma Valley, Majestique from around the world and CJ, also from Napa Valley.



Sylvie Laly

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.

Longing to be closely involved with the right small winery, Sylvie’s dream came true in 2013 by joining Cherie and Philippe Melka as Director of Sales and Brand Manager for Melka Estates.