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by Fred McMillin
Where to Grow Great Merlot?
"In Monterey County nearly all of the original Merlot has been uprooted because it was planted in unsuitable locations."
...Prof. John Baxevanis, Wine Regions of America, 1992
"The huge Salinas Valley of Monterey County remains very much a vinicultural work in progress...There, Merlot has yet to make a real move in the Valley."
...Bob Thompson, Wine Atlas of California, 1993
The Rest of the Story
Monterey Merlot certainly is a work in progress.State stats show zero acres 30 years ago. Little was learned in the 1980s, as plantings started and finished the decade at around 650 acres. Then, in the next seven years, the figure shot up to 3,200. The vintners were making their move.
One of those leading the charge was California's oldest family of wine-grape growers, the fifth generation of Mirassous. Back in 1961 they had made one of the first major moves into the Salinas Valley, planting over 1,000 acres and establishing their Mission Vineyard. It was located in the foothills of the Gabilan Range which forms the eastern side of the Salinas Valley.
But they had another property of interest, located on the Gavilan Bench. Facing the afternoon sun, its southwest exposure produced a warmer, drier microclimate. The soil was alluvial, low nutrients, high flavors. Today it is known as the San Vicente Vineyard, and it turned out to be very Merlot friendly. It produced almost all of the grapes for...
Our Wine of the Day
1997 Harvest Reserve Mirassou Merlot
Quick! Which ripens first, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot?
Answer: Given the same conditions, Merlot ripens first. Consequently, it can be planted in somewhat cooler regions than Cab, and still ripen. and cool conditions produce "cool" wines.
This page created November 2000