Like the celebrated wines on which he’s built his reputation, Philippe Melka’s career has been influenced by soil.
A native of Bordeaux, Philippe grew up intrigued by the intricacies of the land around him. When it came time for college, he acted on his childhood interests, earning a degree in Geology at the University of Bordeaux. A class in winemaking in his final year was a turning point, propelling him to earn a Master’s degree in Agronomy and Enology.
Philippe has the rare combination of talent and fortune to be a winemaker who started at the top: his first job out of school was at Château Haut Brion. He has been trained and influenced by some of the most notable personalities in the wine business including Jean Delmas and Jean Philippe Masclef from Haut-Brion, Christian Moueix and Jean Claude Berrouet from Petrus, Paul Draper from Ridge and the globetrotting wine consultant Michel Rolland with whom he continues to work with on consulting projects.
His first job in Napa Valley was studying soils for Dominus Estate from 1991 to 1993. The terroir here was a revelation for him and although he went back to France afterward, taking a position with Chateau Petrus, he returned to the valley in 1994 and has called this his home ever since. For the past 20 years Philippe has served as the winemaking consultant for some of Napa’s most highly regarded properties.
Melka is already at work with Westwood’s vintage 2017 wines, which will bear his influence as the final lots and blends are selected for release in 2019. Melka will have complete control of the 2018 vintage. Of his new position at Westwood, he says
“Westwood has already been gaining great acclaim and attention for the award-winning wines crafted from this unique and unexpected gem of a vineyard,” noted Melka. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to unlock the soul of this special site and take the wines even higher.” Melka will complete many Westwood wines from the 2017 vintage and will direct farming and winemaking going forward.