Mercier Winery
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The Merlot Vineyard, Winery and its History

MERCIER winery is located on Old River Road, between the communities of Hopland and Ukiah in Mendocino County, California. The vineyard is located on 2 +/- acres of leased land in the McNabb Ranch area, also between Hopland and Ukiah, which is on the west side of Mendocino Valley.

Andrea Swanton and Michael Mercier started the winery in 1998, with the goal of producing a very high quality Merlot that would be rich in flavor, smooth and develop complexity as it aged. They agreed to strict farming and wine production guidelines subject to Mother Nature's whims in any given year.

Michael's passion for wine started at Ohio State University, were he wrote a thesis on vineyard cultural practices for the production of fine wine in 1980. Andrea's love for wine making developed quickly during her time spent in Northern California while the winery was being built, and crystallized upon her first crush.

Jim Fetzer developed the vineyard in 1993. After his family sold Fetzer Winery in 1992 Jim developed his new vineyard using biodynamic farming techniques, with no pesticides or herbicides and only organic fertilizer. Jim's goal was to develop the finest biodynamic vineyard in Northern California. Our vineyard is on bench land at the west end of McNabb Ranch and the vineyard slopes gradually into the McNabb Ranch floor, which sits above the Mendocino Valley.

The unique terrior, which makes our vineyard special, is the amphitheater Landscape at the west end of McNabb ranch. This area produces cool nights, moderate day temperatures and is coupled with superior drainage from the gradual slope and well-drained soils. The vineyard also has overhead irrigation, which allows us to water during hot spells (above 92 +/- degrees F). This type of irrigation is crucial for as the grapes ripen; too much heat will shut down the plants photosynthesis thereby affecting the acid/brix (sugar) balance. The vineyard slope and soil drainage is important too, for it doesn't allow water to build up in the soil, which would be harmful to the grapes. The grape yield is held between 2-3 tons per acre primarily through viticulture practices.

All these elements allow the grapes to ripen slower than most Merlot vineyards and allow the grapes to "hang" typically to early or mid-October producing a very mature grape that is still in balance between acidity and brix and rich in flavor and color. These characteristics and practices are available to few vineyards.

The grapes are typically harvested in early October. The weak grape clusters are pruned out in the vineyard a few times just prior to the harvest and then hand sorted at crush. The fermentation process is in open top, temperature-controlled tanks. Typically, the grapes are "cold soaked" and then the temperature is allowed to rise slowly. The cap is punched down and pumps over as desired. Extended maceration varies depending on color, flavor and tannins. After primary fermentation the wine is drawn off into Allier French Oak Barrels to undergo malolactic fermentation.

We do not use fining or filters. This has been possible to date due to strict vineyard and winery practices and Mother Nature. The final blending of juices is critical. We limit our production to between 200-275 cases per year.

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