Nora Burba Trulsson | July 25, 2019 | Food & Drink
Touting Arizona wine, produce and products, alt-rock icon Maynard James Keenan’s Merkin Vineyards’ new wine bar takes root in Old Town.
The new Scottsdale tasting room has a woodsy-meets-industrial style with awning windows that open onto the adjacent sidewalk and street, plus plenty of shelf space for wine and merch.
Most know Maynard James Keenan as a rock star. He is a Grammy-winning vocalist for the cult-favorite bands Puscifer, A Perfect Circle and Tool, the latter of whom he is touring Europe this summer.
In Arizona, though, many know him through his more recent persona—that of a respected winemaker, farmer and restaurateur. His newest venture, Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale, melds both: a dusting of music, along with wine and a menu of plantcentric, shareable dishes.
Winemaker and musician Maynard James Keenan
The wine bar debuted in March—joining a tasting room in Jerome and an osteria in Cottonwood—and is located in a building that was once home to award-winning restaurants See Saw and FnB. The renovated, 65-seat space has a relaxed, industrial vibe, with wood and metal accents; awning windows that open streetside; and plenty of shelving for some 25 wines, including Keenan’s Merkin Vineyards and his boutique label, Caduceus Cellars, as well as recently introduced Puscifer canned sparkling wines. There’s plenty of merch, too, from hats and tees to glassware and wine totes, all bearing Keenan’s wine logos.
When it comes to sitting down and enjoying the vino and a light meal, General Manager James Cunningham notes that many of the wines are available by the glass, such as the popular Merkin Shinola Rosado, a rosé; the Chupacabra Blanca, a white blend; and the Shinola red blend. All come from the 110 acres of vineyards that Keenan oversees in the Verde Valley and Willcox.
Ingredients for the plantcentric food menu are sourced primarily from the winemaker’s Verde Valley farms and orchards.
The food, says Cunningham—a veteran of the local hospitality industry and a graduate of Yavapai College’s viticulture program—is always seasonal. “We have greenhouses, raised beds, orchards and olive groves up in the Verde Valley,” he says, “and that makes up most of our menu.” Recent dishes have included beet tartare with a pickle vinaigrette, wild mushrooms with soft cheese, vindaloo-spiced cauliflower and a salad fortified with toasted grains and butternut squash. Dessert? Merkin’s own line of handcrafted gelato and sorbet, in flavors like lavender spiked with malvasia wine. The merch also includes their food, such as preserves, apple butter, dried pastas and olives.
“We want to tell the story of Arizona,” says Cunningham, summarizing the tasting room’s raison d’etre. “We’re showcasing what is growing in the state and what we are capable of producing.” 7133 E. Stetson Drive, Ste. 4
Photography by: grace stufkosky/courtesy of merkin vineyards and evolve pr & Marketing