This month I am posting about the grapes we grow in order of the most widely planted on our vineyards. Merlot is next on the list. Merlot. Need I say more? It has been a much maligned grape in the last 10-15 years (darn it Sideways!) and I believe mistakenly so because it makes a great wine, softer than Cabernet Sauvignon, with great structure. Even grocery chain scans continue to show it is one of the top varietals purchased. Possibly due, in part, because there are 45,000 acres planted in the state of California not including the rest of the world? It is second only to Cabernet Sauvignon in tons crushed in the state. There are 5500 acres planted in Sonoma County, around 1000 in Dry Creek Valley and we have 12 acres on our estate.
Sometimes Merlot stands in the shadows since it is known as a blending grape especially in France (part of the Bordeaux blends you hear about). We have used it to soften our Cabernet Sauvignon and even our Sangiovese at times. A grape of intense color but mild mannered it is also the base for our friends.red blend. Grown on the bench just above the valley floor we usually get about 6 tons per acre. The average going price per ton here in Sonoma County is $1600. Overall Merlot is a good choice when looking for a wine that is friendly to the palate. Or look for wines where it plays a pivotal role as it adds a soft touch, mild tannins and lots of flavor. Merlot in my Dino coming up!
Merlot at harvest time, ready for its' moment in the limelight.