Jones Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley
Our View from the Edge
Meaningful and long-term relationships with growers give Merriam Vineyards latitude. By partnering with growers throughout Sonoma County, the Merriams are able to select the best vineyard sites to complement their estate grapes. During the growing season, Peter and Winemaker David Herzberg work closely with growers in determining crop load and to fine-tune other essential viticultural practices that ultimately translate into the highest quality wines. “We loved the way the vineyards in France were farmed, where one hectare was shared between five different producers, all of whom cultivated their own rows,” Diana says. This memory has served as the model for their relationship with local growers.
Passalacqua Vineyard Block 21, Dry Creek Valley
Steep, rocky, and with light volcanic soil, the 100-acre Passalacqua Vineyard is meticulously maintained. The south-facing Block 21 vineyard produces wine with classic cabernet sauvignon character. It is a late-ripening vineyard due to cold nights and its high elevation, and is carefully managed to give ample hang time.
Jones Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley
Located in the upper reaches of Dry Creek Valley, Jones Vineyard produces rich, broad-on-the-palate wines with plumy, jammy fruit character. The cabernet franc vines are older, and the yield is low to concentrate fruit flavors in this very vigorous variety.
Gloeckner-Turner Vineyard is located above Lake Sonoma in the Rockpile AVA, with an elevation of 1,300 feet; this appellation is one of the most unique places to grow grapes in the county. Due to the strained resources up high, these grapes come in smaller clusters with much more intense fruit. The average temperature is 10-15 degrees cooler than Dry Creek and it is one of the youngest AVA sites, having been adopted in 2002. Vineyards designated by Rockpile must be above 800 feet, the level at which fog settles on the valley floor and above the lake. The inversion caused by the lake, as well as the proximity to the coast at 16 miles, give Rockpile some truly unique growing conditions. Gloeckner-Turner is primarily a cattle farm, only 24 of the farm’s 3,000 total acres are farmed for grapes, 8 of which go towards growing Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bacigalupi Vineyards has a rich history of winemaking in California and the world. Some of their fruit went into making the chardonnay from the 1973 Paris tasting, which helped bring California wines into the forefront of winemaking. The growers share our same values in farming and winemaking, which is a commitment to minimal intervention to the natural processes and traditional winemaking techniques. They also lay claim to having planted some of the area’s first pinot noir vines.
Jones Vineyard is located in the bench land of Dry Creek valley. A slope side, gravelly vineyard with good drainage, planted back in the 1980’s and farmed by renowned vineyard manager Ray Teldeshi, these 25 year old vines are some of Sonoma’s oldest and finest Cabernet Franc.
Originally seeking some Cabernet Franc to blend with our Merlot, we discovered the fruit was so good that we ended up using it as a stand-alone varietal. This all started with a handshake deal back in 2002 and our then winemaker sought out some of the best Cabernet-Franc in the valley to blend without Merlot. A relationship had begun with Phil Jones, one which we are proud to continue honoring today.
Jim Rickard is the owner and operator of his family-run wine grape farm and wine production facility in Alexander Valley. His land has been producing Zinfandel since 1909, slowing expanding under Jim’s watch when he purchased the land in the late 1970s. The abundant water onsite allowed Jim and his family to build ponds to augment their irrigation needs, and the surrounding land has proved to be great land to producing Malbec grapes. Their commitments to sustainable farming practices and traditional winemaking and wine grape growing reflect our own philosophies. Jim’s grapes go into producing our Lower Pond Malbec.