Tag Archives: winemaker

Philippe Melka joins Phantom Creek

We’re thrilled to announce that internationally acclaimed Napa-based winemaking consultant Philippe Melka has joined the team at Phantom Creek Estates. Melka will serve as the consulting winemaker for Phantom Creek’s red wine program working closely with winemaker Francis Hutt.

“I look forward to working with Phillipe with the goal of crafting wines that are among the finest in the world, but that distinctly express the Okanagan Valley terroir,” said Santiago Cilley, CEO of Phantom Creek Estates.  

Philippe Melka has the rare combination of unparalleled talent and good fortune, his first job out of school, was at Bordeaux’s legendary Château Haut-Brion.  From there, he took a position with the venerated Moueix Company and was sent to Dominus Estate in Napa’s Yountville district to study soils in 1991.  Napa Valley soil proved a revelation for Melka.  He set out travelling, dividing time between soil study and winemaking at esteemed estates like Badia a Coltibuono in Chianti and Chittering Estate in Australia.  He returned to France in 1993 to further develop his expertise, this time at none other than Château Pétrus.

Melka has thus been trained and influenced by some of the most notable personalities in the wine business, including Jean-Bernard Delmas and Jean-Philippe Masclef from Haut-Brion, Christian Moueix and Jean-Claude Berrouet from Pétrus, Paul Draper from Ridge, Daniel Baron from Silver Oak, and globetrotting wine consultant Michel Rolland, with whom Melka continues to work on consulting projects.  In 1994, Melka returned to Napa full time, and for the past 20 years, he has served as winemaking consultant for some of Napa’s most highly regarded properties.

 â€œI’m impressed with the biodiversity of the Southern Okanagan, and the distinctiveness of the estate vineyard’s terroir. I am energized to be working with Phantom Creek Estates and share in the team’s commitment to producing outstanding wines from this remarkable new winery.” 

As consulting winemaker for the red wine program, Melka joins an elite team of wine legends at Phantom Creek Estates, including Alsace superstar Olivier Humbrecht MW, consulting winemaker for the white wine program and wine industry veteran Santiago Cilley as CEO.

Meet the Team: Karin Grosstessner-Hain

None of what is happening at Phantom Creek Estates would be possible without the incredible team behind it. With our Meet the Team Series, we will be introducing the individuals who are working hard to make all of this possible.

Where were you born and raised, Karin?

I was born in Linz, Upper Austria and raised there as well.

Did you do a lot of outdoor sports in Austria?

We moved to Ternberg in the Alpine foothills when I was six and that’s a paradise for outdoorsy people like me. Mostly I spent my time, hiking and biking. Further I also played Tennis and I swam every day during summer. Water is my favourite element I would say. Oh and I tried soccer, but they kicked me out as I scored an own-goal in my first game.

What is your favorite traditional Austrian meal?

That’s easy to answer. It’s ‘Eispalatschinken’. You can see I am Austrian as I love a sweet dishes and have them as a meal.

It’s a very thin pancake filled with vanilla ice cream and the toppings are: chocolate sauce, roasted almond slivers and whipping cream. It’s amazing and I could have it for breaky, lunch and dinner any day of the year.

Have you ever been visited by Krampus?

Yes, many times. I guess I was a bad kid. When you are a young adult you kind of hope to meet Krampus because usually it’s the single guys in town that dress up as the scary creature. They scare you first but then invite you for mulled wine.

What drew you to the Okanagan?

The nature, mountains, wine, lakes and the kindness of the people living here. Everyone was super welcoming and friendly when I moved here 2013. It was easy to make new friends and because of the wine industry there are so many people from all over the world living here. So everyone is new and local at the same time.

How did you first hear about Phantom Creek?

It was a job posting for my first position at PCE as an enologist. I love growing and developing things therefore it was a given that I would apply for this job. There was no building yet except for a vineyard shed that we used as our office. One of my jobs was to build up the winery lab from scratch. It was located in the shed kitchen because there was running water. We outfitted the lab with world class equipment that is still top notch located in a building where the sand was blowing through every crack. This was definitely a challenge and now that I see our lab in the new facility it makes me smile how easy it is now to keep the sand out.

What is your position at Phantom Creek?

My current position is assistant winemaker. I was promoted last year and now I have a business card, hihi.

Which are your other favorite wines or wineries locally or around the world?

I love Riesling with good structure and balanced acidity. As an Austrian you grow up with high acidity in wines. Locally I appreciate a glass of Martin’s Lane Riesling and Tantalus’ Pinot Noir. But I change my mind about varieties according to the time of the year. Worldwide I would say Leeuwin Estate  Art Series Chardonnay, their Shiraz and Fass 4 Gruener Veltliner from Weingut Ott. Very nice example of biodynamic vineyard practices and organic winemaking.

What’s your favorite Falco song?

Jeanny, quit living on dreams….

What would people surprised to know about you?

Hmm…That’s hard because I think I am an open book as I tend to say what I think. Maybe that I really like Nu metal music like Clawfinger and Rage against the Machine.  And before that I really liked New Kids on the Blocks

How do you define success?

By enjoying what you do. Then you are able to give our best.  That way your environment appreciates your efforts, can feel the passion and starts sharing the same believes. That way I am always the most successful.

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