2006 Silverado Vineyards Mt. George Vineyard Merlot

Mission Codename: Leaping for Silver

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Visit Silverado Vineyards and acquire their exclusive Mt. George Vineyard Merlot

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Silverado Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2006 Mt. George Vineyard Napa Valley Merlot

Winemaker: Jonathan Emmerich


The Stags Leap District, which shot to fame in 1976 when Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar topped the finest French wines in the Judgment of Paris rivals Rutherford as the most loved region in Napa. Best known for Cabernet Sauvignon, its Petite Sirah and Merlot are its hidden gems. The higher elevation Mt. George Vineyard is located south of the district and just south of highway 121 in the eastern slopes of the Vaca Range. Another interesting fact is that Siverado Vineyards is owned by the widow of the late Walt Disney.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep and dark burgundy in color with a dark but clear core. Along the edges the color gracefully fades to ruby then dark pink. When swirled fast thin and even spaced legs ring the glass.

Smell – Medium in intensity with a slightly spicy kick that softens as the wine breathes. Ripe dark fruit layered over fresh oak with hints of dried herbs and dark chocolate emerge causing your mouth to water in anticipation.

Feel – Dry and smooth, this full-bodied Merlot balances a youthful character with a richer plush structure. Fine grained tannins and easy slightly bright acid and spice over a touch of minerality that lingers long into the finish.

Taste – Rich and dense dark fruit, ripe black and red berries with layers of new oak, medium spice, dried herbs, a touch of toasted vanilla and hints of dark chocolate that mesh perfectly providing exceptional balance between the plush and youthful qualities of this wine.

Finish – Long in length, with dark fruit and berries that are integrated with and supported by its smooth grained structure and lingering oak.

Conclusion – The 2006 Silverado Mt. George Vineyard Merlot is a definite crowd-pleaser and will appeal to Cab lovers and those who those who too often dismiss Merlot (let’s end that practice once and for all, ok?). So easy and approachable but with a great nose, solid structure on the palate and rich and bold flavors that are also luscious and easy to enjoy. This wine will universally appeal to and match perfectly with a wide range of foods.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Jon Emmerich, Winemaker, Silverado Vineyards


PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco Bay Area

WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Fermentation Science U.C. Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Harvest intern Obester Winery, Half Moon Bay, Harvest intern Stags Leap Wine Cellar, Cellar Worker-Conn Creek Winery, Laboratory-Sebastiani Vineyards, currently-Silverado Vineyards

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I have a very simple philosophy. Wine should taste good and be well made. It should have the influence of where and how it was grown


WINEMAKER QUOTE: “What’s your location?”


AGENT RED: Greetings, Jon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Mt. George Merlot today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

JON: Thank you for the opportunity, A-Red.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

JON: I did not grow up in a family that had an appreciation for wine. In fact, I don’t really remember drinking wine as a kid. I do remember seeing Lancers in the back of the refrigerator though. My love of wine came later in life when I went away to study at UC Davis. I applied for the winemaking program and was accepted. At 18 years of age, I did not necessarily think I would stick with winemaking as a career. I had a dorm neighbor that had a small family farm and winery. We harvested grapes and made wine in the dorms. At that moment I thought I could do this.

RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

JON: Vintage 2009 will make my 20th harvest with Silverado Vineyards. I would say that this is where I have learned the most. I work with very smart, talented people who have very strong opinions about wine and its production. I do have, however, two people that I have worked with in the past that were extremely valuable. The first was a wonderful Italian Cellar Master at Conn Creek Winery and the other was a consulting viticulturalist that recently passed away.

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

JON: See Above

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

JON: I came to Silverado Vineyards in February 1990. The winery had been making wine from estate fruit since 1981. I did not believe that it was my role to change the winemaking style only tweak it to make it better. This has been my guide since I got here. The winery was successful and the wines were well respected so why would I want to change that?

RED: How long have you been making wine?

JON: Professionally since 1987.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

JON: We make wine for people who like to drink wine. I enjoy what we make, the owners and staff like what we make but ultimately we make wine for consumers. Our goal is to make wine that is delicious, structured and well made. You do this by careful farming and having a staff that is committed to the product.

RED: Tell me, what makes the [REGION] so special?

JON: Napa Valley is a special place. It is special on two levels. The first level is just the natural landscape, topography, climate, soil. Things we have no real control over. The second is the general commitment that workers and the larger wine community have with wine. We are basically a monoculture based on wine so it better be good.

RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?

JON: I would say try to get as much practical experience as possible. Grape growing and wine making is done all over the globe so don’t limit your exposure. School is important as well, it shows you can think critically.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

JON: Currently, I am spending most of my time walking the vineyards. All our fruit is estate grown. This consists of 6 different vineyard sites and almost 400 acres planted. I am basically looking for problems and making sure the vines look good going into verasion.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today

JON: The wine is our 2006 Mt. George Merlot. We produced around 400 cases. The wine is a single vineyard designate and is 100% Merlot. Mt George is located in the South-East side of the Napa Valley. The soils are gravelly loam, rocky and well drained. It is also slightly cooler than many parts of the valley. I believe that the combination of soil and growing conditions make for a great site to grow Merlot. Merlot is a thinner skin variety so it tends to accumulate sugar (brix) faster. In warmer sites you can get sugar without flavor. This translates into having to let your grapes get too ripe in order to have some flavors. At Mt. George, we feel we can get flavor development at a reasonable brix level. In fact, starting with the 2007 vintage, our entire Merlot production will move from being a Napa Valley designate to Mt. George.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

JON: The Mt. George Merlot has a light herbaceous note with ripe red fruit underneath. It’s vibrant, well structured and has balanced tannins. It would go well with grilled meat or hard cheeses.

RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know

JON: I don’t like to eat table grapes or raisins.

RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

JON: a lighter white wine with great acidity

RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

JON: Being an established winery, I believe that some people may have old opinions about our wines. I would say to those consumers who think they know Silverado Vineyards to look at us again. We are constantly making improvements in what we are doing with our vineyards and in the production of our wines.

RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?

JON: Tequila

RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?

JON: What does Vintage 2009 look like. I would answer, ” The best one yet.”

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

JON: No, Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Silverado Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.

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