Varietal: Merlot

Whitehall Lane

For more than four decades, Whitehall Lane Winery has graced Highway 29 on the outskirts of St. Helena. For half of those years, the winery has been run by the Leonardi family, which previously founded the iconic Napa Valley Wine Exchange. Today, Whitehall Lane operations are overseen by daughter Katie Leonardi, along with her brother Tom. With eight strategic vineyard holdings in the St. Helena, Rutherford, and Oak Knoll appellations, as well as across the county line in Sonoma, Whitehall Lane produces a wide range of wines from quality grapes. The winery is Certified Napa Green for its sustainability measures, and its dedication to quality has resulted in encore placements on Wine Spectator’s revered “Top 100 Wines” list.

Silver Coast Winery Frichette

Where: “Red Mountain has the perfect everything for growing thick-skinned, small, berry-sized Merlot,” says winemaker Shae Frichette, speaking of the Columbia Valley sub-appellation where she makes her home. As the smallest and warmest growing region in the state, the place is also known for outstanding Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fruit for Frichette Winery‘s Merlot grows on a southwest-facing slope, basking in prolonged sunlight to achieve robust ripeness. Cool night temperatures offer a nice acidity, explains Shae, while “low rainfall gives us the opportunity to practice water management, which contributes to grape ripeness, lack of sugar dilution, canopy management, and flavor development.”

Middle Oak Wines Terah Wine Co. Baer Winery

With co-owner Lisa Baer at the helm,  Erica Orr as winemaker, and Paige Whipp as cellar master, Baer Winery is operated nearly entirely by a female crew.

Altipiano Vineyard Davidson Wine Co. Darjean Jones Wine Chateau Chantal