Melissa Apter Castro

Melissa Apter Castro

Metzker Family Estates (Winemaker)

Melissa Apter Castro, a Bay Area native, graduated with a degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California, Davis, in December 2011. Initially intending to start her pre-medical studies, Melissa was a Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior major with a minor in Italian. She spent six months interning at the UC Davis Medical Center’s Emergency Room, an experience that opened her eyes to the reality of emergency medicine.

One of Melissa’s dreams was to study in Italy and for the Fall semester of her junior year, she took language and culture courses in Siena, Italy with the UC program. In her own words, “The way wine brought strangers and friends together and created an atmosphere for stories and memories to be shared made me realize I should pursue wine as a career.” This “Ah ha!” moment encouraged her to take a leap of faith and e-mail the academic advisor of the Viticulture and Enology program one night while in her apartment in Siena to set up a meeting to change majors.

Even before her time in Italy, Melissa recalls being enamored by the smells of the cellars and caves she visited as a young child while tagging along Napa winery tours with out-of-state family. Growing up so close to Napa allowed for her to think of vineyards and cellars as a normal part of her childhood life, like going to a park.

Immediately upon graduating for UC Davis, she interned at Torbreck Vintners in the Barossa Valley for their 2012 harvest. While working with many other passionate international interns and learning new skills every day, Melissa knew that she had chosen the right career path and that she would be fulfilled in it for the rest of her working life.

Following her return from Australia, Melissa was awarded the Antinori Scholarship from UC Davis to work at the Tignanello Estate in Chianti Classico for their 2012 harvest. “This is where I was introduced to the Antinori company and where my passion for Italy and for winemaking were able to shine and progress as one.” Shortly thereafter, she was selected as the first enologist at Antica Napa Valley – the Antinori Family’s estate. Working closely under winemaker Nate Weis, Melissa quickly learned the ins and outs of managing a crew, running a laboratory, and the logistics that go with operating a fast-paced winery.

She was promoted to associate winemaker in 2014 and to winemaker in 2015, and now works closely with Antinori chief enologist Renzo Cotarello and Antica estate manager Glenn Salva to produce the estate wines of Antica Napa Valley.

“This family estate, with its 600 acres of estate-grown fruit all perfectly matched to a range of microclimates, soils and elevations high above the Valley floor, provides numerous opportunities to craft the best wine from Napa Valley,” Melissa says. “And I am honored to be a part of the Antinori 630-year legacy of winemaking.”

The unique range of microclimates at the Antica Estate allows her to make bright and crisp Chardonnay and rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon while combining Antinori’s winemaking philosophies with the special characteristics of the Atlas Peak AVA in Napa Valley. As one measure of her success in winemaking, named Melissa one of “Napa’s 7 Most Exciting Winemakers” in 2016. She also shares her winemaking expertise by participating in the Women for Winesense’s Napa Chapter.

When Melissa is not up in the mountains of the Atlas Peak AVA, you can find her adventuring in the Sierra Mountains at her family’s cabin where she spent her summers as a child. Whether it be off-roading, sky diving, or river rafting, she is up for it all.