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  • Theresa Downs

Markham Vineyards: Chardonnay wines, Priced Reasonably and Easy to Drink

Part of a Chardonnay blog series

What's Their Story:

Markham Vineyards is California's fourth oldest operating winery, although the owners and winery name have changed through the decades. Lured by the prospect of gold, the founder, Jean Laurent, arrived in Napa from the Bordeaux region of France in 1852. Instead of pan gold, he stuck a different kind of gold by recognizing the potential of early Napa as a wine-growing region, and he started the winery in 1874 as Laurent Winery. In 1879, Mr. Laurent built the stone cellar, the cornerstone of the winery today. Although Mr. Laurent died in 1890, the winery continued operating with different owners.

In 1975, Bruce Markham purchased the winery and founded Markham Vineyards; the winery's first vintage was a Cabernet Sauvignon. Apparently, Mr. Markham, an ex-Navyman, developed a penchant for cannons. The story goes that he began each harvest by firing his cannon in the vineyards.

As of 2020, the winery is owned by Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners, by Japanese company Kirin.

Why The Winery Made The Grade: Chardonnay

You may wonder why a winery known for its Bordeaux blends and Merlot wines would be included in a blog about Chardonnay wineries because Markham Wineries makes good Chardonnay wines, priced reasonably and easy to drink. Most of the wineries I've written about in this series of blogs are the superstars of Chardonnay, and their price reflects it. I think it's important to acknowledge wines that aren't the out-of-this-world Chardonnay but are still really delightful, easy to drink, and have a great price point. Markham makes a remarkable Merlot wine; red wine drinkers should plan on a taste when visiting.


Markham Vineyards has a lovely outside seating area where visitors can admire the stone cellar. After a recent renovation, the interior tasting salon has morphed into an airy, open space with a definite modern vibe.

Which Winery Visitor Type Would Love It :

Authenticity seekers would put this winery on their list because of the tour of the production areas, and Casual Wine Drinkers would enjoy the outside tasting areas in particular.


Address: 2812 St. Helena Highway North, St. Helena, CA

Phone: (707) 963-5292

Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Daily

Appointments are required.

Tours/Tastings Offered:

Markham Vineyards offers four different tastings: Classic Reservation Tasting (either indoor or outdoor), $45.00 per person; Bar Tasting (inside at the bar), which offers samples from three different wines, $25.00 per person; The Best of Napa Valley Merlot Tasting: An Educational Exploration for $75.00 per person.

Read the next blog in our Chardonnay series: Napa Cellars or read all of the blogs in our new guide, Chardonnay Wineries of Sonoma and Napa.

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