Merry Edwards: A Pinot Noir Pioneer

All this week we are honoring the Vintners Hall of Fame’s class of 2013.

Later in the week, we’ll shine the spotlight on writers Frank Schoonmaker and Robert Parker, and activist Cesar Chavez. But today, the star of the show is winemaker extraordinaire Merry Edwards, with this profile courtesy of Balzac Communications.

One of the first women to graduate from the U.C. Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, and the last graduate student to study with professor Maynard Amerine, Merry Edwards began her impact on the California wine industry while still a student. Her thesis on the danger of using lead in wine capsules is credited with helping end the practice.

Refusing to accept unequal treatment as a woman, she forced the university to change its job placement program for graduating enologists. Apprenticing with Dick Graff at Mount Eden Vineyards, Edwards began pioneering clonal research that would culminate in her leading the first seminar on clones to be given at Davis, and lending her name to one of the earliest Davis clones of Pinot Noir (#37).

After helping start Matanzas Creek Winery, and holding positions at Pellegrini Family Vineyards and Liparita Cellars, Edwards went on to start her own label in 1997, focused on Pinot Noir.

Edwards has been making California Pinot Noir longer than any other female winemaker in California, and longer than many men. Her wines, along with those from several other pioneers, were instrumental in proving definitively that the Russian River Valley can produce top-quality Pinot.

In 2007, Edwards built her own winery outside of Forestville, where she continues to make vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs as well as one of California’s most lauded Sauvignon Blancs.

Tomorrow: Meet newly elected Vintners Hall of Famer Frank Schoonmaker.

Posted in Wine Buzz
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