Winemaker, Quixote Winery
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.
Country born: France
Education: Geology at the University of Bordeaux
Master’s degree in Agronomy and Enology.
Years in the wine industry: 30+ years