Membership in The Meritage Association grew by eight in December, and the number of wineries now making recognized Meritage wines is more than 130.
In 1988, a group of American vintners formed The Meritage Association to identify handcrafted wines blended from the traditional “noble” Bordeaux varietals.
Most American wines are labeled after the grape variety that comprises at least 75 percent of that wine. A label with “Cabernet Sauvignon” indicates that the wine is comprised of 75 percent or more of the grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon.
Many winemakers, however, believed the varietal requirement did not necessarily result in the highest quality wine from their vineyards. “Meritage” was coined to identify wines that represent the highest form of the winemaker’s art – blending – and distinguish these wines from the more generic moniker, “red table wine.”
“Meritage,” pronounced like “heritage,” was selected from more than 6,000 entries in an international contest to name the new wine category. Meritage is an invented word that combines “merit” and “heritage.” While many wineries prefer to use proprietary names in addition to, or rather than, Meritage, to obtain a license and use the term Meritage a wine must meet the following criteria:
* A red Meritage is made from a blend of two or more of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenere. No single variety may make up more than 90 percent of the blend.
* A white Meritage is made from a blend of two or more of the following varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Sauvignon Vert. No single variety may make up more than 90 percent of the blend.
Here’s a list of the latest Meritage Association members:
* Vetter Vineyards Winery (New York)
* Frog’s Tooth Vineyards (California)
* Hawk Watch Winery (California)
* Revolution Winery (Virginia)
* Jerome Winery (Arizona)
*Falkner Winery (California)
* Mount Palomar Winery (California)
* Red Oak Winery (Massachusetts)