Wine Bounty caught up with Chad Melville, Co-Founder and Head Winegrower of Melville Winery. While you can learn more about our Melville tasting experience here, we wanted to gain some perspective on the person leading the charge behind the vines. Here’s Chad, in his own words.
1. With roots in farming, how has this shaped your approach to wine?
Farming is everything. The connection with Mother Nature, and the combination of our soil and climate is what makes our approach to winemaking unique and very rewarding. Think of the connection like a singer and songwriter. There are plenty of musicians who are successful singers, but a singer-songwriter has the deepest connection. Owning our own land, doing all of our own farming, AND only using our own fruit . . . that’s the deepest connection.
2. What is the most memorable or influential lesson you learned in your winegrowing journey?
Mother Nature is in charge, 80%, and surrendering the control and embracing her power to dictate what happens is not only essential, but difficult to do at first. Our job is to take the remaining 20% and use it to the fullest.
3. Some view a wine’s price point as an indicator of its quality. Do you challenge this view and, if so, what advice would you give wineries searching to balance image with value?
Wine pricing is tied into ego. Lose the ego. Look long term. Overdeliver is our motto.
4. Who is your idol/mentor and how have they influenced you?
Chris Whitcraft, winemaker, no longer with us, was my mentor. His approach, his focus, his love of whole cluster and lack of machinery was what hooked me. Through all of this, he kept his sense of humor and never took himself very seriously. Life is short, life is crazy, live every day.
5. What bottle has had a lasting impression on you? Tell us about the experience.
I’m 50 years old, been growing wine for over 25 years, and was raised in a family who has been doing this for four decades. I’ve had so many amazing wines, as you might imagine. To me it’s not about one single experience, I’m not wired like that. I will tell you that I had a bottle of 2006 Whitcraft “Melville Vineyard” Pinot Noir (when we used to sell some fruit) this past week and it was phenomenal. This idea that California Pinot does not or cannot age well is absurd. Case in point. Look no further. Btw, I’ve had plenty of Burgundy that did not age well.
6. Besides wine, what are you passionate about?
My children, the outdoors (fly fishing, hiking, peaceful Mother Nature), cooking, and MUSIC.
7. What flavors and/or sounds remind you of home?
The ocean air, eucalyptus, wild sage, fog, and the way the sun hits my skin. Those are more aromas, but aromas are flavors and I’m really big on aromas. I smell everything, kinda weird I know, but my nose is my guide.
8. At its core, wine is about community – bringing people together. In a time when the definition of “community” is making headlines, do you see a role for the wine industry in this discussion? If so, how?
Community has always been big for us. Wine has always been a tool to bring people together, obviously mostly around the dinner table. To us, nothing has changed. But in a bigger scale, yeah, wine has been around for thousands of years, so it has played a huge role in bringing community together.
9. What is your favorite wine tip or advice for wine consumers?
Serve your reds and whites slightly chilled, EVERYONE, including restauranteurs. 58-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Period. I really wish everyone would get their heads around this.
10. What is your favorite bottle in your current/upcoming lineup and tell us about its story?
“Favorite” is a word I don’t use. I can tell you that the 2019 Estate Pinot Noir is always a challenge because it’s made with 120+ components. And it’s the challenge that is fun. If it were easy, it would be boring, and boring isn’t fun. I’m not much of a marketer, and when winemakers come up with these ridiculous stories that are fabricated and stretched, it makes me want to hurl.
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