Markham Vineyards is one of Napa Valley’s first wineries. It was first founded by Jean Laurent, a Bordeaux immigrant who came to California during the gold rush in mid 1800’s. He built the winery in 1874, and in 1879 he added the stone cellar that is the heart of the present-day winery’s tasting room and art gallery featuring the amazing photography of Baron Wolman, Rolling Stone Magazine’s first chief photographer.
After Laurent’s death, the property changed hands a number of times. About a century later, Bruce Markham arrived in Napa Valley also looking to start a winery. He purchased vineyards in Yountville, Oak Knoll, Calistoga, and the old Laurent winery in the late 1970’s. The first employee hired by Markham, Bryan Del Bondio, is now president of the winery, and chef of our luncheon at the winery.
We were guided through the mid-sized winery by winemaker Kimberlee Jackson Nicholls who quickly put us at ease.
She explained her winemaking technique and decisions a winemaker is responsible for while touring us through fermentation and storage areas within the winery.
In the middle of one of these dimly lit barrel rooms sat a candlelit table and we enjoyed our first barrel tasting of the trip. We began the lunch with their 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and 2008 Chardonnay paired with a salad full of fresh vegetables picked that morning from Bryan’s garden. Both white wines had bright fruit flavors that complemented the fresh greens. The main course consisted of grilled lamb chops over a porcini mushroom risotto, again fresh from the garden. The lamb went perfectly with their 2007 bold Cabernet Sauvignon. We finished with double chocolate chip cookies and a silky 2006 Merlot. The wines coming from Markham are approachable, affordable, and accessible and a perfect match for any meal. We appreciate the hospitality shown to us by two very warm people, Bryan and Kimberlee, who made this a quite memorable experience.
… Amy (Wine Consultant, New Port Richey)