Today’s California Wine Country podcast is another repeat show in our “Women in Wine” series, because there is no new show today, as our regular schedule is still subject to interruptions due to Coronavirus issues. This episode with Merry Edwards and Heidi van der Mehden was first recorded and broadcast on June 26, 2019.
Merry Edwards and Heidi von der Mehden are our guests today on California Wine Country. Tom Simoneau is in with Steve Jaxon while Dan Berger is away this week.
Merry Edwards owns Merry Edwards Winery and Heidi von der Mehden is the winemaker there. Tom declares that the world is a better place because Merry Edwards is in it. The last fifty years have been a golden age of California wine. Ever since the 1976 tasting (the famous “Judgement of Paris” where some Californian versions of French varietals were proven to be as good as and even better than their French counterparts). She was responsible for several important innovations. Tom mentions cold fermentation, cleanliness in the wineries and the reaction to phylloxera. She did research into lead capsules and she found that lead was getting into wine. Her research grant was from the Wine Institute and her research results were held back for a year.
In the mid 1970s she went to France and learned about their research into clones. She brought this information back here and found that people were convinced that the dirt was more important and they didn’t want to study clones at first. Of course this all changed pretty soon thereafter (by the 1981 vintage) and clone research quickly became a critical part of the wine business here. She went to work at Matanzas Creek and planted a five-clone vineyard. The Chardonnay went for $30 and the Merlot $70. Tom remembers people thought that was outrageously high at the time.
2017 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc from Merry Edwards Winery. It’s 100% barrel fermented with about 18% new oak. They stir the lees twice a week. It stays in the barrels for six months. Others bottle in November but they are still stirring and don’t bottle until the following April and don’t release it until the next Fall. Merry Edwards finds that this Sauvignon Blanc ages well.
Merry Edwards wines are available at the tasting room and online and in a few stores in California. The winery is in Sebastopol near the famous Underwood restaurant.