Discovering the Virtual World of Wine Tasting with the Melkas

Cherie and Philippe Melka, proprietors of MELKA ESTATES, have been sharing their passion for creating exceptional wine since 1996. They produce four distinct labels that reflect their philosophy of soil driven wines: Métisse from Napa Valley, Mekerra from Sonoma Valley, Majestique from around the world, and CJ, also from Napa Valley.

We caught up with Cherie and chatted about how she and her husband were thoughtfully managing and adapting their business and lives in what has become the new normal.

Similar to many people, the Melkas spent the first weeks of shelter-in-place (SIP) cleaning closets, drawers, making family dinners at home. After much procrastination, Cherie took advantage of her newfound “free” time to complete the process of applying for French citizenship, and she recently received her welcome letter from French President Emmanuel Macron. On July 14 in celebration of Cherie’s French citizenship, the Melkas had a Bastille Day Release which included their French wine Majestique Chateau Le Chatelet from Saint Emilion France.

After a couple of disorienting weeks of SIP, there were fewer home cooked meals and more delicious take-out offerings from local restaurants, and they realized it was time to get back to work, which is no small task for Cherie who wears many hats at MELKA ESTATES, acting as the CEO, CFO and resident winemaker.

There are the regular aspects of the business – preparing for harvest, checking the vineyards, maintenance, facility improvements, and now there are the new elements to adapt to – social distancing, virtual tastings, optical sorters, updated marketing and sales strategies.

At first, the Melkas were a little hesitant to embrace virtual tasting, but after a while, they decided to jump in, and the plunge has been quite successful. MELKA ESTATES invites clients to select one of four tasting kits and then schedule their private virtual tasting at a time that is most convenient for them. Each tasting experience is an interactive and lively discussion over Zoom with any one of or perhaps all of the Melka team — depending on scheduling. In advance to the scheduled date, the wines, tasting notes, educational booklets, and two complimentary boxes of Melka Woodhouse chocolates, all ship free.

Being busy has not blinded the Melkas to the current fight for racial inequality in the United States and around the world. On Tuesday, August 11 they will release 2011 – 2016 Métisse Magnums with a portion of proceeds benefitting the ACLU of Northern California and other human rights organizations.

Appropriately so, Métisse is a French word meaning “a blend of cultures”.