We were very much interested in visiting “new to us” wineries on our trip to the Santa Rosa / Healdsburg area, and Emmitt-Scorsone definitely fit that requirement. Heading west from the town of Healdsburg into the Dry Creek Valley, we immediately encountered the change in scenery that is so common to wine regions. The road to the winery soon became only one lane in parts and we were thankful that the only car that we encountered heading toward us was small enough that neither had to execute any complicated maneuvers [like backing up!].
Still, we managed to arrive a little early and had a chance to talk to the owner of the property, David Merrill. He spoke fondly of his desire to just focus on tending to the grapes and his pleasure at having the Emmitt-Scorsone winery on site to handle winemaking duties, both from his estate grapes (the property, known as the Vinegrove, is about 32 acres with 7+ planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Petite Sirah) as well the ones the winery owners source from other areas.
We sat on the back patio – in a land of spectacular views, this is a great one – and were soon joined by winery co-owner and co-winemaker, Michael Scorsone. Michael became interested in the wine world early, moving to Napa after first graduating from the CIA in New York and then UNLV. He worked at wineries in Napa, Italy and New Zealand, eventually becoming assistant winemaker at Failla under Ehren Jordan [we’re big fans of Ehren from his days at Turley]. Michael then consulted for Fred Schrader of Schrader Cellars and then moved on to become head winemaker at Adobe Road for several years.
Michael’s assistant winemaker at Adobe was Palmer Emmitt. Palmer had a very different path to the wine world, having been an international level racing skier and then having a ten-year career working in feature film production. During that time, Palmer developed a passion for wine, eventually achieving advanced sommelier certifications from the WSET. He moved to Northern California to attend Sonoma State’s wine MBA program. As mentioned, he worked with Michael at Adobe and they made the jump in 2015 to start Emmitt-Scorsone.
Emmitt-Scorsone actually has three labels.
Judge Palmer is named after Palmer’s grandfather. The focus of this label is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon from prestigious Napa Valley vineyards and relatively undiscovered Sonoma County sites as well as classic grape varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
Domenica Amato is named after Michael’s grandmother – her immigration picture is on the label – and focuses on Rhone and Italian varietals.
Finally, the Emmitt-Scorsone brand is more value oriented and provides a good entry point to discovering the winery.
Michael asked if we had an interest in white wines or just wanted to focus on reds. If you’ve read our articles at all in the last couple of years you know what our answer was. Michael then asked “do you like getting a little funky with your whites?” We said “heck yeah” and we were ready to taste:
2019 Domenica Amato Vermentino – from the Mahoney vineyard in Carneros; part of the vineyard is in Sonoma and part in Napa. The wine spent 10 months in Italian clay amphorae. Meyer lemon notes, crisp medium finish with a kiss of saltiness, reminiscent of the ocean air.
2020 Domenica Amato Viognier – from the Salomon Vineyard near Kenwood in the Sonoma Valley. This wine spent ten months in neutral oak barrels. With a tart peach nose, this wine is luscious and rich and had a medium finish.
2019 Domenica Amato Gusto Bianco – a complex blend of 48% Viognier, 47% Grenache Blanc [both from Sonoma County] and 5% Fiano all the way from Clarksburg in Yolo County. It was light and bright with a tangerine nose.
2016 Domenica Amato Roussanne from the Bennett Valley. An Orange Wine [i.e. skin contact white] that was interesting in all the good ways. Only made two barrels, very complex and fresh.
2019 Domenica Amato Barbera from the Dry Creek Valley. Cherry notes with bright clean fruit. Classic bramble notes but with finesse and elegance. Very nice.
2018 Domenica Amato Gusto Rosso Estate Red blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petite Sirah, showcasing all the estate vineyard has to offer. Big and bright from the Grenache with a medium finish. Good rusticity with a very slight gaminess that makes you want another taste.
2018 Judge Palmer Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Terrace — the winery makes a few Cabs, this one is from their estate vineyard. Just a couple of barrels made of this. The wine was concentrated and intense with great depth and a long finish.
2019 Domenica Amato Grenache Estate – 100% Grenache from the estate. A little light in color but not in bouquet or flavor with plenty of clean red fruit. Grenache as it should be made with no attempt to over-extract it. Delicious.
In wrapping up our visit, we asked Michael what he wanted people to know about Emmitt-Scorsone Wines. He responded that it was important that people realize that the winery is just these two guys with a passion for wine. They said to each other “let’s make wine” and started with only a couple of barrels. Production is small, just about 3,000 cases and they still do everything by themselves. Their passion comes through in every bottle.
1830 Jameson Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Michael and Karen Perlis have been pursuing their passion for wine for more than 30 years. They have had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show them the way and after a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as they possibly could, they had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Michael and Karen do their best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers.