ABOUT Bobby Rowett
I learned to make wine the traditional way — by working as an apprentice to winemakers that I admired. Luc and Eve Cartier at Mas de Gourgonnier, Dean Hewitson at Hewitson Wines, Melanie Krause at Cinder Wines, Marcus Goodfellow at Goodfellow Family Cellars, and Andrew Davis at The Radiant Sparkling Wine Company guided my intuition and taught me technique. In 2013 I started Mellen Meyer to participate in the phenomenology of wine as a sparkling wine maker. That first year I made 70 cases in a small corner of Goodfellow Family Cellars where I was assistant winemaker. Mellen Meyer is now located atop the Dundee Hills at Winter’s Hill Estate, where we are producing around 1000 cases of Willamette Valley sparkling wine a year.
I have always primarily relied on my intuition and senses to guide me. They led me along the path to winemaking and are still my most valuable tools in the cellar. Motivated by creativity and exploration, I spent my college years studying continental philosophy. After graduation the wine business appealed to the phenomenological perspective I had developed and I landed at the newly opened Boise Co-op Wine Shop. I liked the friendly atmosphere and the emphasis on wine education fostered my passion for knowledge. It was a happy environment where we taught people more about this hobby that brought joy to their lives.
I had always wanted to travel to Europe, so when a friend moved to France I took the opportunity to visit him in the Burgundy valley. I wanted to explore and experience wine country, to see the history of wine culture, to be in the vineyards, and see how the French people were eating and drinking and integrating the wine into their life. It was like seeing a creature in its natural environment with all the rich context and history. I explored wine cellars that were hundreds of years old and visited with the families that ran these vineyards and heard what it meant to them. Inspired, I decided to stay longer than I originally intended so that I could work at a winery and be immersed beyond being a tourist.
In the south of France, I found my way to Mas De Gourgonnier, an organic farm and winery that has been in operation since the 18th century. It was very remote and they boarded me next to their residence in an old building that felt a lot like a haunted house! Only their daughter spoke English and I had not yet learned French, so I was feeling very isolated. Nighttime storms are frequent north of the Mediterranean Sea and often left me feeling a little scared and lonely. After one particularly rough night, I was questioning why I was here and the owner showed me a moth (which they actually call a butterfly of the night) that he told me is a sign of a good place. It was just the thing I need to transform my fear into inspiration and it was that day that I realized I wanted to start my own wine label.
At that point I was on a mission. I could see the winery on the horizon and juggled three jobs for several years to learn all sides of the wine business. During this time I was exposed to the world’s finest bottles of grower-produced Champagne and absolutely fell in love with their nuance and variety. I wondered why weren’t wineries making sparkling wine in that style in the United States? And so after years of exploration I had the clear vision that would become Mellen Meyer.
I knew the Willamette Valley was the natural place to make the winery happen. Our cool climate and exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards are the prime place to make world-class sparkling wines in North America. In the Summer of 2012 I went to work for Marcus Goodfellow at Goodfellow Family Cellars, who would become my biggest winemaking influence. The following Spring I met my future wife, Julie Meyer, and we started Mellen Meyer that Fall.
Our approach is to create the best wine regardless of the cost. Fortunately I have discovered that is that it is not money that makes the taste, but intelligent choices.
- We work with the worlds most expressive grape varieties: Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
- Our vineyard sources are the best in the valley for our specific purpose. They are cool, windy, sustainable, tended and harvested by hand, and most importantly never irrigated.
- We start every ferment with native yeast that hitches a ride from the vineyard at harvest, not from a lab packet. Picture a meadow of wildflowers versus a park.
- Wines are fermented and aged in mostly neutral barrels, including Oregon oak. I taste each barrel weekly to determine just the right time to bottle.
Dry farmed vineyards
Carey Creek vineyard is located on the cool north slopes of the Chehalem Mountain AVA. Soil is uplifted marine sediment (Willakenzie series). The tiny vineyard sits on a steep south-facing slope. The diversity of microclimates in this one acre planting is astounding. Ripeness levels can be up to a week apart from the top to bottom rows, providing for a rare nuance and intense mineral acid, making this an ideal site to source for sparkling wine.
Johan vineyard is located where the cool winds of the maritime Van Duzer corridor meet the Willamette Valley AVA. Clonal material is a mix of 95, 96, 114, 115, and 667. Soil is Helvetia Silt Loam. The vineyard sits atop a ridge, with slopes facing north and east. It is Biodynamic and Demeter certified.
Whistling Ridge vineyard is located in the heart of the Ribbon Ridge AVA. Clonal material is a mix of Pommard, Wadensville, 777, 115, and Upright clone. Soil is uplifted marine sediment. The vineyard sits nestled in the forest, with a gentle south-facing slope. There is a consistent evening breeze in the vineyard through the growing season that helps keeps the vines healthy and intensifies character and spice.