vineyard 29 winery with view

Our Team

Philippe Melka - Winemaker

Philippe spent much of his early life in Bordeaux, receiving his geology degree in 1989 from the University of Bordeaux. In his final year of study, he took a wine course purely out of sheer curiosity, and from that moment on realized his passion--and future--lay in the world of wine.

In 1991 he completed a masters program in Agronomy and Enology under the direction of Professor Sequin, a reputed specialist with regard to terroir. Philippe was fascinated by the relationship between soil and wine quality and his appreciation of the study of soil agronomy continues to this day in his work as a viticulturist as well as winemaker.

Philippe set out for the New World to discover its wines and expand his knowledge in the process. In 1991-1992, he worked for Dominus in both winemaking and vineyard management. He split 1992 between working harvest at Chittering Estate in Western Australia, and returning to Dominus to study grape maturation and ideal picking times.

In 1993, Philippe studied soils at Badia a Coltibuono in Italy as well as the emerging Sangiovese varietal. In the spring of that year, he was once again on French soil, joining the J. P. Moueix company in Libourne, where he stayed until returning to Napa Valley in 1994 to devote himself to winemaking and continuing soil studies.
In 1999, Philippe began making Vineyard 29 wines. After the McMinns purchased the property, Philippe proved instrumental in thinking through the winery design—with the aim of arriving at a design that would help him to produce the best wine possible. In conjunction with the design and winemaking process, he aided with vineyard selection as Chuck sought another property to add to the Vineyard 29 portfolio. Now, years later, we often hear Philippe referred to as one of the most important winemakers in Napa Valley today.

For more information about Philippe, including the current roster of wineries for which he consults, visit