Friday, April 15, 2016



Jon is only the second lead winemaker in the history of Silverado Vineyards. During his years at the winery, he has grown Silverado’s reputation for quality and consistency.

Jon has come a long way since his days as a kid in Redwood City, a suburb south of San Francisco. In those days, he remembers his parents drinking Mateus Rosé and Blue Nun, popular wine brands in the 70s. It wasn’t until Jon went away to college at UC Davis where, on a lark, he enrolled in the Fermentation Science program, that he was introduced to the greater world of California wine.

As it turns out, Jon’s lessons took place not only in the classroom, but also in his dorm room. He and a dorm mate, whose family owned a small farm and winery in Lodi, decided to use some of the family fruit to make wine in their dorm room. It was a red blend and, at that point, Jon realized that if he could make decent wine in a dorm room, then he could make really good wine out in the world.

In 1985, Emmerich tested his wings in France for an internship where he augmented his knowledge of the traditional wine making craft. After graduating from The University of California, Davis in 1987 with a BS in Fermentation Science, Emmerich worked a harvest at Stags Leap Wine Cellars. He then spent a year at Conn Creek Winery and Sebastiani before moving to Silverado Vineyards in 1990.

Emmerich is Past President of the Napa Valley Wine Tech Group and Past President of the Winemaking Techniques Committee of the California Enological Research Association. He is currently on the Board of The Trellis Alliance, an advisory committee to The University of California, Davis Viticulture and Enology Department.

Managing winemaking is just one part of what Jon does at Silverado Vineyards. He spends a lot of time on the road, meeting consumers and carrying the Silverado story outside the Napa Valley. He also spends copious amounts of time working in Silverado’s estate vineyards to understand the terroir and communicate its story through the wines. Jon sums it up nicely – “If my staff enjoys their work and our customers enjoy our wines, then I have done my job. In the end, that’s what really matters.”

“The beginning of vine planting is like the beginning of mining for precious metals: the winegrower also ‘prospects’.” - Robert Louis Stevenson, The Silverado Squatters, 1880

A century later, the Miller family began the journey Stevenson described, establishing Silverado Vineyards in 1981. “It was beautiful land, and it was land that was working,” says Diane Miller of their first vineyards, purchased in the 1970s. Diane and Ron sold their grapes to some of Napa’s best vintners, who made award winning wines from them year after year. Encouraged, they struck out on their own with the goal of making the best wines the estate could produce at a fair price. This has remained the guiding philosophy over the years. The winery’s name, Silverado, comes from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley, where Stevenson stayed so many years ago. It is an appropriate symbol: three generations of the Miller family are still “prospecting” for wine, staying true to the idea of coaxing something precious from the soils we are privileged to care for.

From vine to bottle, the making of exquisite wine depends on the experienced hands of a strong community. Good wine is about people, from every hand that helps create our Cabernet to every current and future friend who lifts a glass of our wine around the dinner table. We would not be Silverado without a strong community, which is why we feel so strongly about being a good neighbor.

Of course that starts with how we go about our daily tasks. 100% of the estate is sustainably farmed: 15% is farmed organically; 70% is Certified Napa Green; 50% is preserved in the Land Trust exclusively for open space and agriculture use. 50% of the winery is powered by our solar panels. We are proud of these accomplishments, but they are just the just a beginning. We know we can and will do better.

For our winery crew we ensure better than Napa average compensation, comprehensive benefits and flexible schedules. We also donate time, money and wine to over 70 organizations annually that need our help to keep their communities safe, healthy, learning and enjoying the pleasures of artistic endeavor.

For us, sustainable is not simply a farming method. It is an approach to all of our activities. It is the driving force behind everything we do to ensure that this winery and estate are here for generation of our customers, neighbors and the Millers to enjoy.

This is a great wine growing property. Each one of the vineyards has its own distinctive flavors and character. We work to make better use of the land, to farm it better, to help each block express exactly what and where it is. I believe that’s how to make wine.

Stags Leap Vineyard Cabernet, Merlot
Miller Ranch Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
Mt. George Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
Soda Creek Ranch Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc
Firetree Vineyard Chardonnay
Vineburg Vineyard Chardonnay



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