Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale – Showcasing Arizona-Grown

by Jim Cunningham

Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale is on a mission to delivering a 100% Arizona experience through the use of its homegrown produce and wine. It is a mission few would choose to take on, but it is essential when regional, sustainable and a sense of place are the main goals.

Merkin Vineyards’ and its sister label Caduceus Cellars’ backyards are known across the state and abroad for their unique estate wines. The backyards are also home to ducks, quails, fruit orchards, greenhouses, herb beds and rows of vegetables that become the ever-changing seasonal focus of the restaurant’s culinary teams.

As the saying goes, it takes a village, and that is where we can highlight the vast selection of Arizona’s bounty. For instance, Two Wash Ranch in New River, Arizona, is our go-to option for fresh chicken, as well as Rovey Family Farms, which provides high quality, locally raised Wagyu beef. Hassayampa Farms and Crow’s Dairy are other notable choices, as they make delectable cheeses. The German Sausage Company also offers cured meats to complete Merkin Vineyards’ charcuterie board checklist. All these purveyors, like Merkin Vineyards, are locally owned and operated and celebrate the abundance of our agriculture.

There is a small window when the peak flavors are bursting after fresh fruits and vegetables are first harvested. It is a challenge to maintain this freshness if produce must be trucked in from across the country or even outside borders. Besides the fresh factor, knowing the growers, the soil they grew it in and the care they gave it can make a huge impact on the meal. The modern grocery store mentality has left us blind to the simple fact that not everything is always in season. Mother Nature beats the drum to which we march and jump.

The Merkin Vineyards menu remains flexible and changes weekly — or even daily, depending on Mother Nature’s whims. This ultra-seasonality based on the constant ebb and flow from Arizona growers creates our true sense of place in this muddled food landscape. A few of our stellar dishes include the Lasagna Cupcake made with house made pasta, beef ragu (or seasonal vegetables for a vegetarian version), ricotta and mozzarella cheese, fresh garden greens and toasted Noble bread; the Harvest Salad mixed with Merkin Vineyards’ field greens, orange, apple, pistachio, pomegranate seeds, Crow’s Dairy goat cheese, raisins and citrus dressing; the Crucifixen Wood Fired Pizza crafted with roasted garlic parmesan spread, farm vegetables, fresh mozzarella and fontina cheese; and the Charcuterie Board served with locally produced meats, cheeses and seasonal accompaniments.

Overall, sustainable may be considered a catchy marketing word, but Merkin Vineyards plans to be in Arizona for years to come, offering lunch, dinner and wine tasting. Growing grapes is a long-term plan and keeping future seasons in mind is a necessity. Our friends at Local First AZ said it best: “By sourcing more products and services locally, we are investing our dollars to create self-reliant local communities that offer opportunity and prosperity for all.”  

Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale
7133 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale
(480) 912-1027

Lasagna cupcake

House-made pasta, beef ragu or vegetarian, ricotta & mozzarella cheeses and fresh garden greens, served with toasted Noble bread

Harvest Salad

Merkin field greens, orange, apple, pistachio, pomegranate seeds, Crow’s Dairy Goat Cheese, raisins and a citrus dressing

Crucifixen is one of pizza options

Roasted garlic parmesan spread, Merkin farm vegetables, fresh fontina and mozzarella cheese

Jim Cunningham is general manager at Merkin Vineyards in Old Town Scottsdale.

Did You Know: Pointing out, “The growth of seasonal and weekly farmers markets across our Valley is a great indicator of the capabilities of this state’s producers,” Cunningham, the restaurant’s general manager, says, “It is now up to the restaurants and home cooks to do them justice.”

Photos courtesy of Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale

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