POSTED ON October 3, 2009 | IN Russian River Wine Country - Sonoma Cty. | BY joe

Merriam Vineyards is one of the newest wineries in Healdsburg wine country. Owners Peter and Diana purchased several vineyards in 2000 and this year opened a very attractive New England style winery and tasting room. We visited this winery on Wednesday with friends, took a quick tour, and had the chance to taste all of the Merriam wines. Should you put this winery on your “must visit”list?

We drove into Healdsburg off 101 using the Dry Creek Exit and headed east a couple of blocks to Big John’s Market to buy our picnic lunch to have at Merriam. I wish that this supermarket was my local market at home, there are so many goodies here and the deli is our favorite place to shop for gourmet sandwiches, salads, olives, and cheese. After selecting our lunches, we headed back to 101 and then south to exit at Old Redwood Road, making our way to Merriam.

The first thing that grabs your attention at Merriam Vineyards are the two New England style structures at the entrance. One looks like a mansion the other a more normal-sized home. It turns out the bigger structure houses a modern winery and barrel room. The second is the tasting room. All the vineyards surrounding the winery are newly planted vines of Pinot Noir. It will take at least another four years before these vines are tall and beautiful and able to enhance the view.

For lunch our first thought was a nicely-chilled white wine. They make two at Merriam, both Chardonnays, one in stainless and the other aged in oak. Neither one was to our liking so we moved on to the reds. The reds were very good and we finally decided on the 04 Merlot for lunch. It is a delicious wine, very smooth and Bordeaux like. We also loved the red blend, the Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Most of these wines come from a 30-year-old vineyard down the road. By the way, the winery is located in the Russian River Valley AVA. This portion of the AVA is on the fringe, at the north end. It is a lot warmer here than it would be down by Sebastopol where this AVA begins.

One of our greatest pleasures is to picnic at a winery and enjoy the views of the vineyards. At Merriam, the main view presently is Highway 101. It is noisy and not very pretty. You just do not get that relaxed feeling sitting in what is a comfortable picnic area. Perhaps in a few years when the vines are tall, they will hide the freeway but not necessarily the traffic noise. We shall see.

Other highlights:

Beautiful tasting room, appetizers to accompany tasting, organic farming, and family owned.

To get to Merriam, take Highway 101 and exit at Old Redwood Highway, head west on Old Redwood Highway and turn left at Limerick Lane. Then, take a right on Los Amigos Road and head for Merriam. Other nearby wineries include Foppiano on Old Redwood Highway, Christopher Creek and Limerick Lane wineries on Limerick Lane.

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