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William Weese and Evan Merriam of Merriam Vineyards are both guests on California Wine Country with Steve Jaxon, Dan Berger and Harry Duke. William’s titles are Winemaker and Shepherd. Evan is the newly appointed CEO, having succeeded his father in the role. Evan’s father Peter founded the winery and the last time he was on this show was this episode of September 22, 2021.
Tom Simoneau and Merriam Vineyards founder Peter Merriam both come from the great state of Maine and Tom tells the story of how he found a vineyard for his friend Peter in 2000. Merriam Vineyards then started making wine in 2008. Tom makes his wine at Peter’s facility too.
William Weese, Winemaker & Shepherd
At Merriam Vineyards, William Weese also carries the title Shepherd and he describes how that happened. He decided to build on the biodynamic approach to making high quality wine. At one time they brought 400 sheep into the vineyard so they would mow down the cover crop. They did 15 acres in under a week. The sheep deposit natural urea in their urine which saves them from having to purchase fertilizer for that.
When Peter bought the vineyard, it was already producing. So their first harvest came in at the same time Tom was making some of his own home production in the same place. Merriam is not in the coolest part of Russian River but the fog keeps the vines cool enough to make great fruit.
Dan’s Cellar Dweller of the Week
Dan Berger has also brought one of his cellar wines to taste today, an 2017 Argentine Chardonnay called Bodega Aniello, from Patagonia.
Next they taste a 2021 Danielle Fumé Blanc, estate grown at Merriam Vineyards. The grapes are Sauvignon Blanc fermented in some new French oak. Tom says it has the best of all worlds, as Chardonnays go. Dan Berger detects a trace of quince.
Merriam Vineyards grow ten varietals now. They just harvested their first estate Chardonnay. It’s called “Undisclosed” because they get fruit from many local growers, not all of whom allow their name to be attached to the wine.
The next wine tasted is Diana’s Vineyard 2020 Pinot Noir. Diana is Evan’s mother. They planted these grapes in 2011. There are 5 different clones in Diana’s Vineyard, and they try to keep them separate all the way through production in small batches. William tells about how he handles each one differently, including individual choices of individual barrels. Dan Berger says it is very fresh and young and has potential for aging.