Our View from the Edge

Winegrowing and Wastewater Recycling


Merriam Vineyards is committed to respecting the integrity of the estate Windacre and Los Amigos Vineyards and 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 that included the reduction of pesticides, composting of all stems and pomaces, and the cultivation of cover crops to revitalize the soil. With the planting of the Los Amigos Vineyard in spring 2009, the Merriams took great care to respect the purity of this property by seeking organic certification from the outset.

Merriam Vineyards’ Los Amigos property also features one of only a handful of constructed wetlands in Sonoma County. Composed of four different systems, the reclamation pond recycles 100% of winery wastewater for re-use in irrigating vineyards and landscaping throughout the property. This process essentially eliminates Merriam Vineyards’ dependence on outside water sources, creating a surplus at the winery and protecting the local aquifer from overuse. Winery wastewater collects in a septic tank where solid materials like stems and seeds are separated. The water then flows into an open-air filtration pond, 15 feet wide by 60 feet long and 3 and a half feet deep, where aquatic plant life feeds on fertilizing nutrients from the water, effectively cleaning and filtering it. The filtered water then trickles down to the 70,000 gallon holding pond, where it stays until it is needed for vineyard and landscaping irrigation.