Metzker Family Estate - Laurent Wines
Sonoma County region
An exciting newcomer to the California wine scene shows immediate promise with its exquisitely made single-vineyard wines
The number of wine entities to bear a ‘family’ name has grown appreciably in the past decades since Dick Grace started the practice back in 1976 with his Grace Family Vineyards. There are presently a number of highly rated wineries such as Frank Family Vineyards, Trefethen Family Vineyards, Staglin Family Vineyard and a host of others that produce and market their products under the family marketing umbrella.
Metzker Family Estates is a relative newcomer to the lineage ranks and is definitely one of the wineries that bears watching in the coming years.
It all began in the early 1980’s when owner Mike Metzker moved from his hometown of Sacramento to the Bay Area of Northern California. Metzker was a Biochemistry graduate of UC Davis, spawning place for many noted California winemakers. While Metzker’s primary interest was in chemistry, he also secured a Ph. D. in Molecular Genetics from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In 2002, he went on to found a company, Lasergen, that became a leader in the field of genomics.
But lurking in the back of his mind throughout the years was the wine industry and Mike Metzker wanted to be a part of the compelling agri-business.
In 2013, Metzker began “seriously laying the bricks” in his words. The following year his company produced just under 500 cases of mixed varietals under the name Laurent and released them last year.
“We located several extremely fine producers of quality fruit and entered into long-term contracts with these growers,” informed Metzker. “We released the wines under the Laurent marque as a tribute to French winemaking and the fun associated with wine in general. In the coming years, most of our wines will be released under the Metzker Family Estates label.”
The term ‘Family’ certainly applies to Metzker Family Estates. Son Cameron Metzker and his wife Adrienne are located in Napa Valley and handle the company’s sales and marketing details. Daughter Amanda is a part-time employee and head cheerleader.
Mike Metzker’s vision and foresight is what has propelled this winery startup into the upper tier of boutique wine producers. “We are increasing our Cabernet Sauvignon presence and will release a small-lot Spring Mountain AVA Cabernet Sauvignon next year,” he went on. “With us, it’s all about terroir-driven wines from really top vineyards. As long as we have the right winemaker and the correct fruit, we should continue to be competitive at the highest level of wine production.”
The ‘right’ winemaker for the fledgling project is fellow UC Davis alumna Melissa Apter Castro who joined the company in December of 2016. Castro’s resume is already world class. As a youth, Castro toured Northern California’s wine valleys with her parents and was bitten by the wine bug. She enrolled at UC Davis in pre-med, but quickly switched to Viticulture and Enology after spending a summer in Italy.
She was awarded UC Davis’ Antinori Scholarship in 2012 and spent the following year at the prestigious Tinganello Estate in Tuscany’s Chianti Classico region. She was next offered a position as the first enologist at Antinori’s estate winery, Antica Napa Valley, where she ultimately was named winemaker for the entity in 2015.
Along the way, Castro made the acquaintance of Cameron Metzker and was intrigued by the new brand he was promoting. She agreed to become Metzker Family Estates’ winemaker and has complete charge of the company’s sourcing and winemaking duties. In 2016, she was named one of ‘Napa’s Most Exciting Winemakers’ and seems destined for a dynamic career in the California wine industry.
From every angle, Metzker Family Estates has checked the correct boxes to insure its continued growth and success. By purchasing high quality fruit and placing it in the hands of a gifted winemaker, the combination has already proven to be efficacious.
Owner Mike Metzker is already searching for existing vineyard property in various parts of Northern California to afford his company the opportunity of producing true ‘Estate’ wines in the not-too-distant future. He has assembled a team that will insure his asset to the next level.
“It’s all about having the right plan in effect,” he reflected. “If all the pieces fit together in complete harmony, the resultant outcome will be positive.” As this month’s Platinum Wine Club selection, we are convinced that Mike Metzker’s wines have already achieved that elevated status. Enjoy!
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
I am proud to share Metzker Family Estates’ 2015 Laurent Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay with you today. 2015 was our second vintage to produce wine, and we are so proud of this wine in particular - scoring 95 Points with Wine Enthusiast. I started Metzker Family Estates in 2014 to produce brilliant wines that start with outstanding fruit picked from carefully selected terroirs.
Born and raised in Sacramento, I received my undergraduate degree from the University of California at Davis in Biochemistry. I then moved to Houston, Texas to pursue my PhD in Genetics from Baylor School of Medicine. Still in Houston, I manage my biotech company which focuses on next-generation DNA sequencing technology. To me, the precision of the work I do in my lab correlates with the care we take in the vineyard and winery when crafting Metzker Family Estates’ wines. I enjoy the many trips back and forth to California to play an integral role in the crafting of our wines.
I find that our 2015 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay embodies everything I enjoy about a Chardonnay; luscious fruit, bright acidity, and pure minerality that creates a structured and balanced wine. Thinking back to the first time I met grower Kent Ritchie, I could tell right away that this was a man who puts his passion and full heart into his work. To me, this passion clearly shows in the quality of wine you are about to enjoy.
Melissa Apter Castro - Winemaker
California Bay area native, Melissa Apter Castro is the newly appointed winemaker for Metzker Family Estates and their boutique line-up of Laurent Wines. Melissa grew up in a wine-loving family that routinely visited California's Napa and Sonoma wine growing regions. While studying at UC Davis, Melissa spent a semester abroad in Tuscany and the experience solidified her desire to become a winemaker.
She graduated from the university's esteemed enology program in 2011 and immediately gained experience working in the Barossa Valley for the 2012 harvest. Upon returning to California, Melissa began working for the Antinori Family's Antica Estate in Napa Valley where she earned a reputation for producing fine Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignons. In 2016, she joined the Metzker Family Estates team and was also named one of Napa's Seven Most Exciting Winemakers by NapaValley.com.