“An Introduction to That Magic” Merkin Vineyards
The farm-to-table, vine-to-glass concept only serves and pours what can be grown and produced in the state, primarily by Merkin Vineyards owner and head winemaker Maynard James Keenan and his team in the Verde Valley.
Keenan oversees 110 acres of vines in northern and southern Arizona for Caduceus Cellars, Merkin Vineyards and his new Puscifer-branded canned bubbly wine, all of which are for sale at the new Scottsdale location. Keenan, who is also a Grammy award-winning vocalist for bands Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, said the new wine bar is meant to educate guests about the robust Arizona wine industry.
“In order to truly understand Arizona wines, we feel it is essential to visit these magical regions and experience them firsthand,” Keenan said. “However, not every visitor to the greater Phoenix area has the extra time to visit these semi-remote areas. The Merkin Vineyards location in Old Town Scottsdale is meant to be an introduction to that magic.”
Executive Chef Dirk Flanigan curated a vegetable-driven tapas menu that will be largely influenced by what’s growing at the Merkin Vineyards Greenhouses, Gardens and Orchards by Keenan’s father, Mike, and Randee Larremore. A sample of the current menu includes beet “tartare,” vindaloo-spiced cauliflower, a crisp Berkshire pork belly served with smoked ricotta and a Verde Valley salad with butternut squash, pickled chilies, toasted grains and seeds, and creative cheese and charcuterie plates offer sharable bites. The storefront has a revolving supply of sundries from the Merkin farms, including olives, apple butter and jam as well as house-made gelati and sorbetti inspired by seasonal ingredients.
Whether on-tap, in a can, or from the bottle, the high-elevation wines served at Merkin are produced by Keenan, his wife, Jennifer, and winemaker Tim White. The wine bar also serves beers by Arizona craft breweries Helton and 1912 on tap and will feature a different Arizona Vignerons Alliance member’s wine monthly in its storefront.
The 1,600 square-foot wine bar is situated in the former FnB space at 7133 E. Stetson Dr., Ste. 4. Between the bar stools and tables, Merkin Vineyards seats 75. The wine bar is open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit merkinoldtownscottsdale.com.
Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars are making high elevation wines out of predominantly Italian and Spanish varieties. Owner and Winemaker, MJ Keenan, along with his wife, Jennifer, and Winemaker Tim White, are producing roughly 7000 cases a year in their tiny underground concrete facility known as The Bunker.