Before going to Pizzeria Tra Vigne, Sarah and I decided to pop into Merryvale. After all, why not? It's right there across the street, we were already early for dinner, and they were open for tasting.
Being a midweek weekday in the middle of the off season certainly shows here -- we were the only customers in the tasting room... kind of a strange feeling with a tasting room as large and spacious as this. Something about the whole setup here -- the large building, to its location right in St. Helena off of Highway 29, the fountain out front, the top 80's New Wave hits mildly playing in the tasting room -- all says "typical commercial Napa Valley winery" to me.
Having said that, the experience was still enjoyable. Our server, Kai (Ky?), was a no-nonsense sort of guy who looked like an ex-rugby player for New Zealand or perhaps a character in a Guy Ritchie film... he was laid-back but professional and answered any questions we had (such as whether it was normally such a ghost town, which I'm assuming is not the case on summer weekends!)
The wines were somewhat more interesting and memorable than I expected (because I had no expectations); for example, their syrah is from Carneros. For those who don't know, this is fairly unusual -- Syrah/Shiraz tends to be a warmer-climate grape, and Carneros is known for its cool-climate atmosphere, being closer to the San Francisco Bay and cooled by its breezes and fogs. Not surprisingly, this Syrah was different than many others I've tried... not as plummy and smoky, more light and almost somewhat citrusy, with flavor profiles I would much more expect from a white wine, like hints of orange blossom.