Recently while on a quest to find a place to book my husband’s birthday dinner, I got to enjoy some of the best crafted farm-to-table food you can get around here! You don’t typically think about wine tasting rooms also having an incredible Chef, Steve Zimmerman in the back constantly rotating a fresh menu into play- but that’s what you get at Merkin Vineyards in Scottsdale.
For my husband’s birthday I knew we would have a lot of folks from out of town. I love to treat people to things that they aren’t going to get somewhere else so they feel they got the most of the trip so I was on a mission to find something local but also something with a menu that was unique enough to be special but also diverse enough that people of all ages were able to find something appealing. Naturally this lead me to Old Town and eventually, Merkin Vineyards.
The staff is incredibly friendly so setting up a reservation is a breeze. I do recommend you make a reservation for parties that want to be seated, it’s bachelorette party season and it only takes one or two of those to fill up a joint anymore.
I happen to have the privilege to get the menu reworked a little bit for our occasion. I am vegan and gluten free which is hard to find on a menu without it being the “vegetable side” but the Chef took it upon himself to craft some amazing dishes for me to try! Jim, the general manager, said that he doesn’t like to cook the same thing for too long so they are constantly printing new menus.
Our waiter, Lewis said, “when he gets bored, he gets creative and then some really good stuff comes out!”
Just as great as the food and wine (I’ll highlight that another time. Can’t just gloss over that,) is the story behind the place. The first Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room opened in 2016 in Cottonwood with wine from Maynard James Keenan of Caduceus Cellar and Tim White. Their mission was to provide as close as 100% ARIZONA experience as possible. MOST of their stuff comes directly from their own 110 acres of farmland. Woven between the vines of grapes you’ll find the things crafted into your dishes. Carrots, green beans, garlic, and more. If it’s not found on their farm they will go out on a search to find a local supplier that does have what they are looking for. They are going for regional and sustainable. Read more about where their food is sourced HERE.
Our food experience was top notch. We started off with a charcuterie board filled with AZ dairy cheese, locally farmed meats and these flavorful little skillets of warmed olives from Queen Creek. Their white bean hummus came with vegetables from their acres in Verde Valley and you could taste that level of freshness.
When it came to entrees, flavor was not spared! Some got wood-fired pizzas, handmade pasta, or farm fresh salads but I got the real treat- a creative Chef. Zimmerman was trying out some stuff just for my allergies/preferences which is an accommodation I rarely ever get. I am so grateful he not only made sure I had food to eat but he also gave me unique, tasty dishes I’d never had before. Chickpea battered okra, spicy garlic green beans, and the most comforting paella I’ve ever had. I ate everything so sparingly so I could box it up and enjoy it for days to come.
I paired my food with the Chupacabra red which is so light and smooth it could blend seamlessly with any flavor. Many with pizza got the Chupacabra blanco- we like what we like! I am planning to go back for a full tasting soon so I can review them all for you.
I’d recommend going to Merkin Vineyards Scottsdale for anyone looking to learn more about Arizona, trying to show-off Arizona, bach parties, wine enthusiasts looking for a casual glass, and for small bites-dinner parties for special occasions.