American Roots Winery is run by the husband wife team of Jeff and Julie Murrell. Both have a passion for wine and met while earning Chemistry degrees at Sonoma State University in neighboring Sonoma County. Julie introduced Jeff to wine during their studies and some time after graduating he took his first winery job as enologist at Napa’s V. Sattui Winery. Julie has worked on the winemaking team at the Hess Collection winery for a number of years. There are only 5 or 6 commercial wine producers in Napa that we are aware of, whose primary or main focus is on charitable contributions. American Roots is one of these wineries. Jeff’s mother was re-diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago and was the direct inspiration to start this winery. They wanted to be able to help fight this terrible disease and their contribution comes from what they know best; winemaking.
The name American Roots was the name of Jeff’s moms’ store and in the theme of this name, they release four wines each year, a red, a white and a blue label as well as a very limited production “pink” Rose. Look for the colored stars on each bottle to indicate the type of wine. The red is always a Bordeaux blend, the white historically has been a Chardonnay, and the blue is a Rhone styled wine that often includes Syrah. The winery name has another meaning; a number of vineyards are planted on American rootstalks in order to help prevent disease to the fruit bearing varietal.
Both Julie and Jeff enjoy working with different varietals and using different wine making techniques. In addition their fruit sources vary depending on the year – they try to source from areas that are historically known for certain varietals which is why they also source fruit from outside of Napa County.
2006 was their first release of the white label. The 2006 Chardonnay saw no malolactic fermentation. The nose is decidedly floral in nature with aromas of pineapple and some minerality components. This is a crisp clean wine with great acidity. It is not creamy, oaky nor weighty in the mouth. The palate is smooth with notes of green apple and pear…an ideal food wine.
The 2005 Napa Merlot/Malbec blend is a blend that is not often seen from Napa producers. The Merlot carries the fruit in this wine with the Malbec providing excellent structure. The nose is amazingly complex and reveals more layers as it breathes. It has notes of cigar smoke, bacon, dark cherry and a subtle toasted cedar quality which creeps up again on the finish. The palate is rewarding, rounded and juicy with good dark fruit flavors including blackberry and black cherry.
The 2005 Napa Syrah found under the “blue label” is a very dark wine in the glass. A number of different oak aging trials were conducted, but the final results kept indicating that using less oak was better. As a result, this wine was barrel aged for a shorter time with the oak used to mainly help round out the overall structure. Beautiful black fruit (blackberry, blueberry) shows all the way through from bouquet to palate to the finish. The structure shows good tannin depth and weight with a lingering finish. We suspect this wine will pair well with a variety of meats.
American Roots supports a variety of mostly breast cancer related causes including Fertile Hope and the Y-Me National Breast Cancer Foundation, donating 10% of all sales as well as providing wine for a number of auctions or fundraisers. Their wine club is called True Blue – which allows one to try different wines each release. Their styles of winemaking vary each year; so do the varietals. Consistency in regards to quality is priority, but not actually with the type of wine produced. As Jeff says, “winemaking is supposed to be fun and we always like to mix things up a bit”.
Because production is so limited (usually around 500 cases each vintage) the best way to acquire their wine is via their mailing list or wine club. Locally you can find their wine in the Napa area at Soda Canyon Store on the southern part of the Silverado Trail, which is where we first saw their wine or sometimes at the Calistoga Wine Stop in the north part of the valley. All their wines are priced very affordably for Napa standards.
NOTE: This review has been archived.
REASON: Stopped producing wine commercially
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