Restaurant of the Week: Merkin Vineyards

In need of someplace different to beat the heat? Rejoice, as the latest wine bar in Old Town Scottsdale, Merkin Vineyards, is a charming, atmospheric place to grab a glass of vino this summer.

Owned by alternative rock legend and Tool lead singer Maynard James Keenan, Merkin Vineyards carries high elevation wines of Italian and Spanish varieties, the vast majority of which are produced from fruit grown on Keenan’s 70-acre Buhl Memorial Vineyard in Willcox. Keenan founded Merkin (and sister Caduceus Cellars) alongside his wife Jennifer and winemaker Tim White, and today they produce roughly 8,000 cases a year.

This new Old Town location is the second wine bar for Keenan, following the first Merkin location in Cottonwood, and its eclectic selection of Arizona wines make a perfect complement to the hipness of bustling Old Town. If the phrase “Arizona wines” makes you grimace, then you will be pleased to discover that there are actually many fine varietals growing right here in our state.

We were very pleasantly surprised to witness just how well these local wines stack up against their California and Oregon competition. A few standouts on the Merkin menu: the 100% Tempranillo Sancha and Tarzan Red, the half Chardonnay and half Malvasia Bianca Dos Ladrones, and the very drinkable Chupacabra Rosa. But no matter where your tastes lie, there is a good chance that Merkin has a glass to float your boat.

As for food, there is a small, but well-rounded assortment of vegetable, cheese, and meat charcuterie plates to pair with each bottle, as well as a couple delightful dishes like Crisp Berkshire Pork Belly with smoked ricotta, orchard fruit, and agrodolce. Everything we tasted was fresh and delicious.

Atmosphere is where Merkin Vineyards really delivers, with a lush decor and low-key ambiance that makes it a perfect date or pre-dinner spot. The music (an eclectic downtempo blend of mostly rock), is curated by none other than the Grammy winning Mr. Keenan himself, and there’s a cool selection of merchandise if you really fall in love.

So if you are looking for something different this summer — or want to experience what Arizona wine is all about for the first time — you owe it to yourself to come see what Merkin Vineyards is all about.

Learn more about Merkin Vineyards in Old Town Scottsdale at

ty-fahlman-author-bioAbout Author Ty Fahlman

The former Managing Editor of Jetset Magazine, Ty Fahlman has earned a stellar reputation for his probing, introspective interviews of celebrities, as well as his in-depth profiles of resorts, restaurants, and destinations. With over 150 articles published, Ty has ghostwritten for New York Times bestselling authors and celebrities, and given thoughtful and in-depth profiles and interviews of dozens of A-List celebrities including Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio. He currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona but travels as much as he can.

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