Winemaking

Our wines are inspired by traditional French styles of farming and winemaking. In the less-is-better tradition of winemaking, our wines are crafted with minimal intervention. Much of this dedication is evident in the fields and on the vines, where a commitment to sustainable farming practices and environmental stewardship thrives in the form of water reclamation and composting systems for both grape growing and winemaking. We take extreme care with every step of the process; grapes are picked, sorted of debris, and placed in small batch fermentation tanks all by hand. Our award winning wines, inspired by Bordeaux and Burgundy styles, serve as a testament to our inspiration and ideals as grower and winemaker.

winemaking at Merriam VineyardsSustainability

We are committed to respecting the integrity of each vineyard, along with the surrounding Russian River Valley terroir through a dedication to sustainable viticulture. Upon purchasing the Windacre Vineyard in 2000, Peter Merriam instituted new ecological farming practices including the composting of all stem and pomaces, cultivation of helpful cover crops to revitalize the soil, and a reduction of pesticide use. With the planting of the Merriam Estate Vineyard in spring 2009, the Merriam’s took great care to respect the purity of the land by seeking organic certification from the outset.

Our Merriam Estate property also features one of only a handful of constructed wetlands in Sonoma County. Composed of four different systems, the reclamation pond recycles one hundred percent of winery wastewater for re-use in irrigating vineyards and landscaping on the property. This process essentially eliminates any dependence on outside water sources, creating a surplus at the winery and protecting the local aquifer from overuse.

Our latest efforts included the addition of owl boxes and bees to Merriam Estate.We recently worked with Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue to put 2 owl boxes on our estate. Barn owls are a farmers best defense against rodent infestation. A barn owl's diets consists mainly of small rodents such as voles, mice and rats. Installing barn owl boxes around your home, farm, vineyard, garden or homestead is the perfect natural rodent control method. One family of owls eats up to 1000 rodents yearly. The bee's role in this is their cross-pollination which allows fruits and other flowers to grow. But bees do much more than pollinate cover crops. Bees are also pollinators for insectaries, They help these flowers succeed, which in turn draws beneficial predators such as lady beetles, green lacewings, soldier beetles and Anagyrus. Next time you visit our tasting room, ask our hospitality team to point them out to you!

windacre vineyard sign los amigos vineyard windacre vineyard farming

Our Vineyards

The true blending of our wines begins with the grapes, where distinct varietals are carefully selected and planted to capture the best of Sonoma County’s diverse terroir. Our two vineyard sites, each with their own unique soil composition and geography, allow us to plant particular vines on land that best allows them the opportunity to produce exceptional fruit. From the beginning, we have been committed to sustainable farming practices and environmental stewardship; which means minimal intervention to the natural growing process while allowing vines to thrive.

 

Merriam Estate

Merriam Vineyards celebrated spring 2009 with the planting of four acres of Pinot Noir and two acres of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon on a twelve acre property, which became the Merriam Estate you know today. The soil composition and cooler climate are perfectly suited for such Burgundian-style varietals to thrive, allowing Peter and Diana to produce some of their most beloved wines. As Pinot Noir is Peter’s passion and Sauvignon Blanc Diana’s favorite, these estate plantings will serve as a constant reminder to their dream come true- to produce world class wines in their own vineyards and winery. Merriam Estate has been organically farmed since its inception, a commitment that has been validated by the CCOF, California Certified Organic Farmers, and serves as a testament to the additional work and effort required to deliver high quality products. One of the most notable features of this commitment are the constructed wetlands and water reclamation pond which function as a filtration and storage system for the property’s irrigation in recycling 100% of the winery’s waste water.

 

Windacre Vineyard

Peter and Diana Merriam purchased the Windacre Vineyard in 2000. Originally originally planted in the late 19th century, it is one of the oldest vineyard sites in Sonoma County. However, it wasn’t until the 1980’s when the unique qualities of the land were considered for Bordeaux-style varietals by the growers and planted merlot. Situated in the warmest corner of the Russian River Valley appellation, where neighboring wineries are world-renowned for Zinfandel, Syrah, petite Syrah, and other sturdy red wine varietals, the climate within Windacre Vineyard has many similarities to the Bordeaux region of France and thus well suited to grow such traditional grapes. Although much has changed since the land was first farmed, we continue to maintain the best standards and practices while growing our fruit.

 

Blending

In the creation of Merriam Vineyards’ Bordeaux and Burgundy-style wines, blending is the most important step once wines have undergone fermentation and aging. At Merriam Vineyards, wines benefit from the added complexity provided by sourcing diverse grapes from a number of premium Sonoma County vineyard sites. “Each grape variety is grown from differing terroirs and therefore brings a distinct flavor or mouthfeel to the finished wine,” says Peter Merriam. “For us blending is a spice rack, where we combine fruit, spice, and color to create more dynamic wines. Blending allows us to include varying percentages of different varieties from diverse vineyard sites with the rest being perfectly balanced wines where power is restrained by elegance.” These roundtable-blending sessions consist of tasting each wine twice and making decisions about different cooperages, degree of toasts, color, flavors, and varietal balance, among other important considerations. Once the final decisions are made, each wine goes back into the barrel for the next six to twelve months prior to bottling, a process that encourages harmony in the finished wines. Blending and the role of keeping specific lots isolated throughout the process are both important to our winemaking process. We honor their uniqueness by keeping them in their own separate lots, and then we can blend accordingly to bring out certain characteristics of each wine, allowing them to complement one another. In the final assessment of the wines, we want to make sure that there is a sense of synergy in the wine, being that the completed product reflects more than simply a sum of its parts.


Shop Merriam

Discover the bourdeaux-style of our fine wines.

Our Craft

Organic farming and our winemaking process

Estate Vineyards

Our land produces some of the finest fruit in California