Myriad Cellars was founded by winemaker Mike Smith with his first vintage released in 2005; today the brand is operated by both Mike and his wife Leah. The name “myriad” has its origins in Greece and one of its translations means “innumerable” which can directly equate to wine making based on the “innumerable” aspects it takes to create a great bottle of wine.
Myriad Cellars is Napa Valley artisan wine making at its best; extremely small production (even by artisan standards), hands on wine making, use of limited production premium French oak barrels and a clear and focused attention to detail. Mike does all the cellar work himself; as he says, by doing all the cellar work himself, he is “closer to the wines” and has complete control of the entire wine making process from start to finish.
As a long time consumer with a strong interest in old and new world wines he made a career change after a family courier business in Oregon sold; he then moved to Napa Valley in 2004. Mike had met well-respected winemaker Thomas Brown on an online wine bulletin board in the mid 1990s. Such was his passion for learning winemaking – while still living in Portland, Mike would visit Napa Valley for several weeks at a time during harvest and work for Thomas for free.
Ultimately Mike spent three harvests training with Thomas and has helped make wine for Napa notables including Schrader Cellars, Maybach and Outpost. The wine industry in Napa attracts vintners who have not come from wine making families and we have met several of these winemakers during our work for the Napa Wine Project. Fueled by passion and a willingness to learn these individuals move to the area and learn the trade. It is always admirable when we meet producers who are in this situation – those who have changed directions mid career and have become successful winemakers after taking a risk to follow their passion.
Mike describes his wine making as “purist” in style. He is not tied into one type of wine making, rather he bases his efforts on each particular vintage. He is a versatile winemaker having already built up a resume of making various styles of wines for boutique producers. Myriad sources grapes from a variety of premium vineyards including in the Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Oakville and Calistoga. Myriad focuses on creating Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard designate wines – from some of the most prestigious vineyards in the Napa Valley including several Beckstoffer Heritage Vineyards, among them, To Kalon and Dr. Crane.
His vineyard sources and wine making efforts have certainly been rewarded over the years – as evidenced by an impressive showing of extremely high scores awarded by some of the industry’s most well-respected wine critics.
The 2021 Myriad Rosé of Pinot Noir is from the Sangiacomo Tallgrass Vineyard. This site is located in neighboring Sonoma County on both valley floor and lower slopes of southwest Sonoma Valley. This vineyard was first planted in 1993. This wine is salmon color in the glass with aromas of citrus including grapefruit, crushed dry rocks and a watermelon nuance. Shows white raspberry, wild strawberry, red guava, apple and cut grass on the palate. It is very refreshing from start to finish; this is a clean crisp showing. We enjoyed it very chilled. Love the label? So do we! It was created from a photograph of Lake Tahoe by Lea and a small portion of proceeds from the sale of this particular wine are donated to the Keep Tahoe Blue foundation.
The 2021 Myriad Cellars Napa Valley Sémillon Tofanelli Vineyard is medium yellow in the glass; the bouquet shows aromas of honeysuckle, lemon zest, elderflower and green apple. As the wine evolves in the glass the aromatics become a bit more tropical. The palate is crisp with bright acidity and flavors of green apple, honeydew melon, gooseberry and lemon drop candy. This wine is intensely flavored, complemented by a creamy texture and persists with a long fruit filled finish. There are not many 100% varietal Napa Valley Sémillon bottlings; this is one of the nicest we have tried. The Tofanelli Vineyard is a historic family owned and farmed vineyard located just south of Calistoga with a diversity of grape varieties not often growing in today’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux red centric vineyard sites. Mike has been working with the Tofanelli Vineyard for many years.
The 2017 Myriad Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend from seven different vineyard sites including Georges III in Rutherford. A powerful and inviting bouquet with a diversity of aromas including black fruit, toasted cedar, darker olives with more subtle notes of mocha and chocolate. Also a slightly savory note with hints of sage. Shows a darker fruit profile on the juicy and mouth watering palate with lingering notes of toffee and coffee grinds. Offers depth of flavor without an accompanying punch of tannins – for such a youthful wine, the tannins are surprisingly mature, well rounded and well integrated into the long supple finish.
Myriad’s Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice for those looking for a mouth filling hillside grown wine available at an affordable price considering the quality of the vineyard source and attention to detail with the wine making. This is a classic show of this appellation’s fruit. The vineyard sits at about 900 feet and has provided the fruit for Myriad’s Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon since Myriad’s inaugural vintage. The site is extremely steep and rocky with only 1 to 1.5 tons produced per acre. With a small production like this no dropping of fruit is necessary; the grapes are already extremely concentrated and intense in flavor, which directly translates to the wine.
The juice is fermented until it remains slightly sweet and then transferred to barrel. This process helps round out the oak influence from the new French barrels and in part helps make the oak a contributing component to the wine rather than a dominating one.
The 2006 Myriad Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon begins with an elegant bouquet featuring ripe blackberry and boysenberry, a dustiness and a delicious hint of vanilla in the background. Some of the earthiness on the nose continues to the palate which also shows some unique mineralities. The mid palate is rich, layered and focused. The super long finish is intense and definitely certainly some weight.
In 2022 Myriad Cellars released two canned wines (250ml bottlings) of a #keeptahoeblue still wine and a sparkling rosé.
Over the years, Mike has built a successful career consulting and provides winemaking services to a number of very small premium mostly Napa based brands. He also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon for Quivet Cellars sourced from the same Spring Mountain vineyard as for Myriad, but based on the wine making style and aging program it is very interesting to note its differeing characteristics (when compared to the Myriad Cabernet Sauvignon). Myriad also makes a very limited Syrah, usually around 50 cases so this wine does not last. Again, Quivet Cellars produces a Syrah from the same vineyard as Myriad.
Because production is so limited their wine is selectively distributed and vintages tend to sell out rather quickly. For the extremely small production, quality of the vineyards and wine making, Myriad’s wines are priced very well. Several wine shops in Southern California carry Myriad and locally V Wine Cellars in Yountville and ACME Wine Shop in St. Helena sometimes have it. However the best way to acquire their wine is via the mailing list on their website.
From 2013 until 2022 Mike was in partnership with vintner Mark Carter and produced Pinot Noir bottled under Ancillary Cellars. These wines are no longer produced. However, Mike continues to produce Pinot Noir from select vineyards in neighboring Sonoma County in a partnership with Patiné Cellars.
Heron House, Yountville
Myriad is a part of the Heron House in Yountville which opened the day after Thanksgiving 2019 – a retail wine tasting space in SoYo (South Yountville) that features a select number of premium small-brand producers who do not maintain their own tasting rooms.
The Heron House is setup to feel like walking into someone’s living room – comfortable, cozy and inviting. The retail portion of the space is open during normal business hours and includes mostly locally crafted products including select works of art. Select pieces of art from South America, primarily Uruguay are also featured. Two private tasting rooms are available by reservation. Several curated flights are offered, each containing wines from the various producers represented. Allow up to 90 minutes for a visit. Hours are subject to change, but as of our latest update to this review, this space is daily from 10am until 6pm with the last tasting appointment at 5pm. Weather permitting, tastings can also be held outdoors at one of several tables in the courtyard.
For more information, to schedule a visit or to join their mailing list visit: www.myriadcellars.com