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History Of Murrieta’s Well

An Estate Discovered


Louis Mel Finds His Happy Place

In the scorching summer of 1884, Louis Mel, a 45-year-old French insurance salesman, and his wife Marie Bire embarked on a journey through California, seeking a place to call home. Covering the entire Western United States in his insurance ventures, Mel found himself captivated by the beauty of Livermore Valley. The clean water, picturesque vistas, and soil reminiscent of his native France convinced the Mels that this was the perfect place to plant roots, or more specifically, a vineyard.

What makes this tale even more intriguing is Louis Mel’s unexpected connection to the illustrious Chateau d’Yquem in Bordeaux, France. Marie’s childhood friend, the Marquise de Lur-Saluces, played a pivotal role. This connection would later prove instrumental in shaping the destiny of the Livermore Valley.


A Friendship Bears Fruit

Both Louis and Marie Mel hailed from Western France, with Marie growing up in the Bordeaux region. Through a childhood friendship with the Marquise de Lur-Saluces, the Mel family gained access to some of the finest grape cuttings from Chateau d’Yquem, Chateau Margaux, and Chateau Mersault. Charles Wetmore, a Livermore pioneer, facilitated this by leveraging his connections in Europe. The result was the introduction of prestigious grape stock to the Livermore Valley.


The Mels Build a Winery

With their new grape cuttings, the Mels set out to build a state-of-the-art winery, incorporating innovative gravity-flow techniques. Nestled into the hillsides of their estate, the winery allowed grapes to flow seamlessly through each stage of the winemaking process, all guided by the force of gravity.

While Louis Mel continued his insurance work to fund this ambitious project, the Wente family, neighbors and close friends, stepped in to farm the grapes. The collaboration between the Wentes and the Mels laid the foundation for what would become an iconic winemaking legacy.


Louis Outlasts Prohibition

The passage of time brought both prosperity and challenges to the Livermore Valley. Louis Mel, resilient in the face of Prohibition, outlived this tumultuous era. His winery closed its doors during Prohibition, but the grapevines thrived under the care of the Wente family. Louis Mel, described as an “inspiration” with a “keen sense of humor,” celebrated his 97th birthday with a case of Sauvignon Blanc from his property, a testament to his enduring spirit.


The Wentes Acquire the Estate

After Louis Mel’s passing, Ernest and Herman Wente, having cared for the property for years, decided to formally incorporate the Mel vineyard into the Wente family estate. This decision would later prove instrumental in preserving the historic winery for future generations.


Murrieta’s Well is Born

In 1990, Phil Wente, inspired by the rich history of the Mel estate, collaborated with winemaker Sergio Traverso to resurrect the winery under the name Murrieta’s Well. The name was drawn from the tales of Joaquin Murrieta, adding another layer of mystique to the estate.


The Spur and The Whip

By 2010, Murrieta’s Well had become a leading producer of estate wines, drawing visitors from far and wide. Phil Wente and Sergio Traverso crafted signature blends, The Spur and The Whip, to tell the estate’s story to a broader audience. These blends showcased the best expression of Livermore Valley’s terroir, becoming ambassadors of the region’s winemaking excellence.


Robbie Meyer Takes the Helm 

In 2015, winemaker Robbie Meyer joined Murrieta’s Well, bringing a new chapter to the estate’s winemaking journey. With a meticulous approach, Meyer works hand-in-hand with the viticulture team to grow high-quality fruit, ensuring that the legacy of Murrieta’s Well continues to flourish. 

Winemaker Robbie Meyer


A Story Only We Can Tell

The story of Murrieta’s Well is not just about winemaking; it’s a narrative woven into the land’s hillsides and valleys. From Joaquin Murrieta to Louis Mel, from the Wentes to Robbie Meyer, each generation has found inspiration in this land and its bountiful harvest. It’s a story that only those who taste its wine or set foot on this remarkable land can truly understand.

As Murrieta’s Well continues to thrive, the legacy lives on—a testament to the enduring spirit of those who have been enchanted by this piece of Californian terroir.

A Taste Of Our Estate

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