Bios

René Schlatter

René Schlatter

Proprietor & CEO

View Details

René Schlatter

Proprietor & CEO

René Schlatter joined Merryvale in 1995 as a cellar worker. Over the next 13 years he worked his way up through the ranks to become president in 2008. “Doing everything from filling barrels to calling on accounts has given me a deep understanding of all aspects of the winery.” A native of Switzerland, René has lived in the U.S. since 1987. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and his Master’s Degree from Arizona’s Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management. Growing up in Switzerland, René was exposed to wine at an early age. “My dad was an avid collector with a sizeable cellar of local and international bottlings. We always had wine at the dinner table. His interest led him to acquire Merryvale in 1996. My in-laws are also in the industry and have been producing fine wine for five generations.” Since joining the winery, René has made significant contributions to Merryvale’s sales, marketing, finance and farming efforts. In 2005, he was involved in his family’s acquisition of a 49-acre vineyard in Carneros planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

“I want Merryvale to be considered among Napa’s elite producers of Bordeaux varieties, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. We all know that great wines come from great sites. That’s one of the reasons we purchased and continue to upgrade our Schlatter Family Estate Vineyard in the eastern foothills of St. Helena. We feel it is one of the top vineyards in California. In the future, we might add more high-level properties to our portfolio to ensure a steady stream of first-class fruit.” In 2011 the Wine Enthusiast named René as “Person of the Year” at its Annual Wine Star Awards with these comments: “Since 2008, the president of Napa’s Merryvale Vineyards has pioneered green initiatives while preserving the winery’s family legacy and excellence in producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.” Under René’s direction, the St.Helena and Carneros estate vineyards have been Napa Green Farm certified. “I enjoy drinking wines from all over the world – Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany and, of course, California. No matter what the origin I look for purity of fruit, personality, character and a sense of place. For a wine to be great it must stand the test of time.” René’s hobbies include skiing and tennis. He and his wife Laurence live in St. Helena community with their three daughters, Jenna, Jade and Corinna.

Simon Faury

Simon Faury

Winemaker

View Details

Simon Faury

Winemaker

Simon Faury’s early years were divided between Lyon, Champagne and the Alps. Needless to say, growing up in France, especially the Rhone Valley, gave him access to some of the world’s greatest wines. In 2002, at the age of 17, a tasting of Côtes Rôtie and Condrieu inspired Simon to pursue a career in the wine industry. Simon studied Agronomy and Viticulture in Turin, Italy before earning his Winemaking Masters in Bordeaux. After school he traveled extensively working in some of the world’s most prestigious wine regions including Barbaresco, Barolo, Bordeaux (Domaine de Chevalier, Château Pichon Longueville) and Mendoza (Bordega Michael Rolland). His Napa Valley resume includes Robert Mondavi, The Napa Valley Reserve, Harlan Estate and Merryvale. Working with a number of varieties under diverse growing conditions has had a major impact on his winemaking philosophy. “Great wines possess refinement, depth, character and personality. They elicit joy and emotion. They are the result of attention to the vineyard and respect for the fruit.”

As Winemaker, Simon is in charge of production at the St. Helena winery. He works closely with Senior Winemaker Sean Foster, who oversees all winemaking operations for Schlatter Family Wines, and consultant Craig Williams. Simon focuses on terroir and understanding soils, develops and implements winemaking techniques, creates and fine-tunes the blends, and manages quality during bottling. Simon is very involved in the farming at the Schlatter Family Estate Vineyard and works directly with the growers from whom Merryvale sources fruit. He has input and/or control over irrigation, organic farming, pruning, canopy management and crop loads. “Merryvale’s Schlatter Estate Vineyard is one of the finest sites in Napa. It is a beauty capable of producing tremendous Cabernets from its diverse terroir. As we expand our understanding of this extraordinary hillside property we can fine-tune our viticultural and winemaking practices to develop even more depth, density and smoothness in our wines.” Simon lives in Napa Valley with his dog, Olive.

Michael Costley

Michael Costley

Viticulturist

View Details

Michael Costley

Viticulturist

Michael Costley was raised in the small southwest Missouri town of Monett – population 8,922. After high school he headed 200 miles north to study Plant Science at the University of Missouri in Columbia. “While at school I began working in the vineyards for the third largest winery in Missouri. I loved it from day one. After graduation in 2008 I worked a harvest in Southern Oregon at Del Rio and got my first cellar experience. In early 2009 I spent some time in South Australia at Cape Jaffa Wines. This was my introduction to Biodynamic winemaking – and surfing.” After a harvest at Chalk Hill Winery in Sonoma, Michael worked at Zilzie in Australia and Wither Hills in New Zealand. “In 2010, I returned to the states to get a degree in Enology from Fresno State. Project work at Stagecoach and Cuvaison, both in the Napa Valley, led to me being hired as the viticulturist for Merryvale and Starmont in January of 2013.”

Michael’s travels and work experiences have influenced his attitudes on viticulture and life. “I believe that to flourish, you need balance. You also need to be in tune with your surroundings. I spend most of my time in the vineyards monitoring the vines, making sure they are happy and healthy. We use both intuitive and intensive farming methods for our estate and contracted vineyards. We work closely with nature to get the most flavor and character from our grapes. I also work closely with the winemaking team to make sure that our fruit is complementary with their vision. I like to think of myself as a ‘winegrower’ rather than a viticulturist.” As for the day-to-day aspects of winegrowing Michael says, “Deciding when to pick is perhaps the most important decision we will make all year. If we bring the grapes in at the right time there will be no need to make any adjustments to the juice. We will have the perfect marriage of flavor, acid, sugar and nutrients.” Michael’s hobbies include surfing, food, wine and music. He lives in the town of Napa.