Our View from the Edge

Winegrowing and Wastewater Recycling

Merriam Vineyards are committed to respecting the integrity of the estate vineyards, Windacre and Los Amigos, 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 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 Los Amigos Vineyard in spring 2009, the Merriam’s took great care to respect the purity of the land 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 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. 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 while growing. The filtered water then trickles down to the 70,000 gallon holding pond, where it is aerated via solar powered fountain until it is needed for irrigation.