Meyer Family Cellars
Incorporating “Old World” balanced acidity and minerality with “New World” ripeness and forward fruit
For those wine aficionados who enjoyed the wonderful offerings of the iconic Silver Oak Cellars for the past half century, the son of Silver Oak co-founder Justin Meyer has followed in his father’s footsteps and ascended to the ranks of California’s top level wine producers.
The person in question is Matt Meyer, the 44-year-old son of Justin Meyer and the proprietor (along with his wife Karen) of Meyer Family Cellars, located in Mendocino County on California’s Northern coastline.
The company was founded just before the millennium when Justin Meyer (and wife Bonny) bought the 185-acre property in an area known as the Yorkville Highlands with the aim of giving it to their son Matt to pursue his interest in the wine business.
While the location was far removed from the friendly confines of Sonoma and Napa Valley where Silver Oak Cellars had dominated the world of Cabernet Sauvignon, the setting turned out to be just what Matt Meyer was looking for. He received his master’s in viticulture from renowned UC Davis and prepared himself for the rigors of the grape-growing world.
Early on, Meyer discovered the cold and drizzly climate of Mendocino was particularly responsive to Matt’s favorite varietal, the elusive Rhône varietal that we know of as Syrah. Meyer had discovered the varietal when working in Australia where the grape is one of the down-under country’s national treasures.
“Since my wife is the better winemaker in our family,” Meyer reflected during a recent interview, “it seemed perfectly natural for us at Meyer Family Cellars to produce a world-class Syrah. What I didn’t expect was the fact that Mendocino was a perfect fit (a cold climate) for growing Syrah. We have had so much success with the varietal that I couldn’t see doing anything different if the occasion arose.”
The case of Meyer Family Cellars necessitates further explanation. Shortly after acquiring the property, Justin Meyer passed away in 2002 at the young age of 63. His wife Bonny’s interest eventually declined and the property passed into the hands of Matt Meyer.
Interestingly, both Meyer and his wife Karen were accomplished winemakers. Meyer modestly credits his wife with being the better winemaker and exudes her interest in Syrah as the key to Meyer Family Cellars’ success.
“When we purchased the acreage, the area was virtually an unknown growing zone with little Rhône plantings. Interest in Syrah has grown to the point that it is now the most planted red varietal in the entire region. It’s a truly flexible grape that has won over a large number of consumers and loyal fans,” continued Matt Meyer.
Meyer Family Cellars first saw life with a tiny production of only 150 cases in the mid-2000’s. Production has risen steadily and today rests around the 4,000-case level, a point that is comfortable for Matt Meyer.
“We reached a point where we were producing enough fruit to make more wine, but we decided to limit our production in favor of higher quality. We have a small staff and everyone has been with us for more than a decade. Our wines have been favorably received so we don’t see any need to change anything,” he added.
The Meyer Family Cellars label is also an interesting facet of the operation. It seems that Matt Meyer’s great-great grandfather departed Luxembourg and came to the United States. The winery label depicts the coat of arms of Luxembourg as a tribute to their earlier relative.
Matt Meyer’s vision of the road ahead is simple and straightforward. “We strive to get a little better each year with our wines,” Meyer stated. “We keep in mind that it’s just us that must do the work and that we are really just a small family. Our kids are still young (11, 12 and 14) and are more interested in sleepovers with their friends than they are with the winery. My wife and I are hoping that will change in the future, but who knows?”
Matt Meyer has done his father’s legacy proud and has established his company in a part of the wine industry that is still developing and experiencing major growth. He has remained steadfast in his determination to make Syrah a truly respected and desirable grape that many Americans can identify with and enjoy.
It is our pleasure to introduce our Platinum and Platinum Plus! Wine Club members to Meyer Family Cellars and their marvelous wines that will make a wonderful addition to your cellar. Enjoy!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members
We are excited to share the ninth bottling of our High Ground Reserve Syrah with you. Among the Mendocino and Napa Valley wines we’ve produced over the years, this Yorkville Highlands wine holds an important place in our hearts as winemakers because of our love of cool-climate Syrah. The problem was in 2000, there was no cool-climate Syrah in Northern California, so the key to this wine became developing our farming style in the vineyard.
We started producing Syrah from the Highlands in 2000 and worked with a total of 22 vineyard blocks of Syrah over the years. By 2009, we had focused on a small number of vineyard blocks that consistently provide the most intensely flavored fruit. To create the High Ground bottling that year, and up to the present, we’ve selected barrels from those best blocks and aged them in tight grained French Oak which requires several more months to integrate into the wine. We feel this wine represents the pinnacle of the Yorkville Highlands in the southern hills of Anderson Valley, one of California’s best situated grape growing regions.
Having over a decade’s track record making High Ground has allowed us to gain some perspective on the wine - how it reflects the skills and dedication of our growers, and how it conveys the status of Yorkville as a world-class source for Syrah. We hope you discover this when you open the bottle.