Merry Edwards Winery was founded in 1997 and produces terroir-driven, single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, including the winery flagship Meredith Estate, from 80 acres of estate vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Over two decades, as Merry assembled this stellar collection of vineyards, she employed meticulous attention to detail to become known for crafting Pinot Noirs of immense depth, elegant structure and exceptional longevity.
The winery also makes three appellation wines. The Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs showcase the art of blending. These core wines highlight the best qualities of each AVA and are made to be approachable from release. The winery’s fragrant, barrel-aged Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc is among the most sought after made in California. A single-vineyard Chardonnay from the venerable Olivet Lane Vineyard and Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc round out the portfolio.
Now a Certified California Sustainable Winery, the brand entered a new chapter after Merry’s retirement in 2020. Merry’s handpicked successor, Winemaker Heidi von der Mehden, and Winery President Nicole Carter have taken up exactly where Merry left off and will continue to make wines treasured by legions of Merry Edwards’ fans well into the future.
One of California’s first woman winemakers, Merry Edwards began her career in 1974 after graduating with a master’s degree from UC Davis’ winemaking program. She worked as winemaker for multiple brands, including Mount Eden and Matanzas Creek, and consulted for dozens of wineries before creating the Merry Edwards label in 1997. She was integral in putting Russian River Pinot Noir on the map over the next decade and completed construction of her own winery on the site of her Coopersmith Vineyard in 2008.
She was among the first California winemakers to embrace the importance of clonal selection and firmly believed that site-specific, terroir-driven viticulture was the only way to achieve broad success. Merry had begun her quest to acquire complete control over the winemaking process in 1996, when she purchased land in the Sebastopol Hills of Russian River Valley that would become the winery’s premier single-vineyard Pinot Noir bottling, Meredith Estate. Her decision to follow this path would prove to be prescient. When Merry decided to retire and sell the winery, among the suitors was Champagne Louis Roederer, since the 200-year-old company’s winemaking philosophy mirrors that which Merry embraced her entire career. It was a match made in Heaven.
In 2018, Merry named Heidi von der Mehden as her successor. Heidi had trained with Merry since 2015 and had been a key player at such notable Sonoma County wineries as Mauritson and Arrowood, where she was winemaker. Heidi’s drive and talent, love of the challenging Pinot Noir grape and her commitment to Merry’s winegrowing principles ensure the continuation of this legendary brand.
Heidi employs gentle, traditional, labor-intensive winemaking practices, the same processes developed and perfected by Merry Edwards using no shortcuts. In the winery, all Pinot fermentation tanks are open-top, but fully convertible to closed-topped tanks for blending and storage. Each tank is heated and cooled at the flip of a switch so that proper cold soaking, warming prior to yeast inoculation and any desired extended maceration can be achieved.
Punch downs by hand have evolved to a unique, pneumatic stainless steel foot operated by a joy stick. This allows repeatable, consistent and thorough management of the fermenting Pinot Noir cap. All of the color, flavor and tannins so carefully vine grown can then be captured by full extraction. The Pinot Noirs age solely in French oak cooperage for approximately 10 months.
For the Sauvignon Blanc, full fermentation takes place in French oak barrels, 18% new, which moderates green flavors. Elevage in barrel also allows for a twice-weekly lees-stirring protocol, vital to developing rich mouthfeel.