Celebrating Merry Edwards of Merry Edward’s Winery is easy, she is an icon in the wine industry. Reading her biography, gave me a sense of connection. Edwards initially had career visions in nutrition, earning a masters in Food Science, but her curiosity in winemaking led her to study enology. (My first love was food which developed into an interest in wine.) Merry Edwards Winery located in the Sebastopol Hills region of the Russian River Valley. (Sonoma County was once my home and I still dream of moving back.) Edwards enjoys cooking, gardening, and yoga. (Again, all passions that I share.) Merry Edwards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2008 was my first bottle of Merry Edwards wines. Edwards is known as the queen of California Pinot Noir. And her Sauvignon Blanc is considered by many to be the best Sauvignon Blanc in America. (Two of my favorite varietals.)
Merry Edward’s Winemaking Journey
1973 After graduating from UC Davis with an MA in Food Science and an emphasis in Enology, Edwards is determined to become a winemaker, rejecting traditional female roles as a laboratory technician.
1974 Edwards becomes winemaker at Mount Eden Vineyards
Summer of 1977 Edwards is hired as founding winemaker at Matanzas Creek Winery.
1984 Edwards leaves a successful run at Matanzas Creek to consult and establishes with her family, Merry Vintners, a small winery in the Russian River Valley.
1989 Effected by the downward economic cycle, lenders pull their loans on Merry Vintners and production comes to a halt.
Edwards is hired by Vintech as vice president and winemaker at Laurier Winery.
1990 Vin tech files for bankruptcy in late 1990.
Edwards returns full time to consulting.
1996 Edwards purchased 24 acres for the future site of Meredith Estate Vineyard.
1997 Edwards co-founds Meredith Vineyard Estate and produces the first vintage of Merry Edwards Pinot Noir.
2006 Construction begins on Merry Edwards Winery and is opened to the public in 2008.
2013 Merry Edwards is inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame.
Wins the James Beard Award for Best Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional in the United States, making her one of three women to win the honor along with; Zelma Long and Jamie Davies.
2018 Merry Edwards is now in her fifth decade working in the wine industry. Her success has come with obstacles, determination, and a self-described trait of being a perfectionist.
2015 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley
14.1% abv SRP $36
Light straw in color. Light/medium bodied with medium acidity. Notes of papaya, musk melon, guava, honeysuckle, Meyer lemon, hazelnuts, and crème brûlée.
2015 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
14.4% abv SRP $50
Brillant ruby in color. Light/medium bodied, medium acidity and tannins. Notes of cherries, pomegranate, vanilla, and a hint of licorice.
Winter Feast Food Pairings
Inspired by a new cookbook, “Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables” by Joshua McFadden I made a trio of three vegetable-focused dishes; Freekeh Salad with Swiss Chard, Red Grapes, and Hazelnuts, Roasted Mushrooms with Gremolata Seasonings, and Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Gruyere and Prosciutto.
The Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc paired well with all three dishes; the wine’s acidity, body, and notes of citrus, hazelnuts and fruit complimented the swiss chard, hazelnuts and grapes in the Freekeh salad. The squeeze of lemon and herbs on the roasted mushrooms also made a nice pairing with the Sauvignon Blanc. And finally, the Brussels Sprouts Gratin with the prosciutto and heavy cream were offset with the acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc.
The Merry Edwards Pinot Noir paired especially well with the earthy components of the Freekeh salad and the roasted mushrooms. The Brussels Sprouts Gratin was just too rich and overpowering in flavor for the delicate Pinot Noir.
Freekeh Salad with Swiss Chard, Red Grapes, and Hazelnuts
- 1 cup freekeh
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 bunch Swiss Chard,ribs cut out and cut into bite size pieces, leaves sliced into 1-inch wide slices
- 2 cups red grapes, halved
- 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 4 scallions, sliced at an angle, soaked in ice water for 20 minutes, drained and dried
- 1.5 + oz. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooked freekeh and sautéing swiss chard
- 1.5 oz. red wine vinegar
- 2 pinches Piment d' Espelette
- In a medium sauce pan, add the freekeh, and water to cover the freekeh by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and then add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1 dried bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and cover pot. Simmer for about 20 minutes. The freekeh is done when it is chewy but not crunchy. Taste for salt.
- Drain the freekeh and cool, spread out on a baking sheet. Add a good pour of extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan over medium high heat add about one tablespoon + of extra virgin olive oil. Sauté minced garlic for about 1 minutes and then add swiss chard ribs and continue to sauté for about 3-4 minutes. Add the swiss chard leaves sautéing for another 2-3 minutes, until leaves are wilted. Cool.
- In a large bowl combine sautéed swiss chard and freekeh. Add the grapes, hazelnuts, and scallions. Stir to combine. Add 1.5 oz. of red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper, and pigment d' espelette. Stir again to combine. Adjust for seasoning and add 1.5 oz. of extra virgin olive oil and stir. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 15 minutes for flavors to mingle.
Join Wine Pairing Weekend on Twitter Saturday, February 10th at 11:00 am ET using #WinePW. Check out my fellow #WinePW bloggers and their tributes to women winemakers and winery owners.
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla brings the bubbles with > The Effervescent Nicole Walsh Dishes On Ser And Being a Woman (in Wine) & Sparkling Rosé of Nebbiolo + Fusion Street Tacos.
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares > Women Winemakers~~Introducing Burgdorf Winery.
Nicole from Somm’s Table has us > Malbec, Meat, and Conversation with Hanna Winery’s Christine Hanna
David from Cooking Chat brings us > Tuscan Kale Pasta with Elisabetta’s Vernacchia.
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish runs with the wolves for > Donnachiara Montefalcione – Five Generations of Wine, Wolves, and Women in Campania
Susannah at Avvinare shares > Crociani Rosso di Montepulciano and Turkey Chili For A Cold Winter’s Day