One of the first women to graduate from the UC 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 immediately. Her thesis on the danger of using lead in wine capsules is credited with helping end the practice, her refusal to accept unequal treatment as a woman forced the university to change its job placement program for graduating enologists, and her clonal research while she apprenticed with Dick Graff culminated in her leading the first seminar on clones to be given at Davis.
Merry Edwards began her career at Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974. She went on to become the founding winemaker at Matanzas Creek in 1977 and remained there until 1984. For the next decade, Merry consulted for numerous wineries, large and small, in Oregon and many diverse appellations of California. In 1997, family and friends joined Merry to found Merry Edwards Winery, with a focus on producing Pinot Noirs with a sense of place from Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast.
Living her dream, she and her husband, Ken Coopersmith, now manage five estate vineyards: Coopersmith, Cresta d’Oro, Flax, Georganne and Meredith. They maintain collaborative relationships with several other dedicated growers to supplement this estate production. Two regional blends and six vineyard designates are bottled. In 2001, a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc blend was added to the portfolio. Merry and Ken completed their state-of-the-art winery facility in 2008 on the site of Coopersmith Vineyard. In this venue, tastings are hosted to educate visitors about Merry’s handcrafted wines and site-specific viticulture.
In 2013, Merry’s 40th year as a winemaker, she was not only inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame, she also won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional in the United States, just the fourth woman to be so honored.
Merry employs both men and women at her estate, but with only 10% of vintners in the state of California being female, we thought the week of Mother’s Day would be a great time to honor all of Merry’s hard work and accomplishments, both as a winemaker and as a mother herself. Check out a recent video below, where Associate Winemaker Heidi Von Der Mehden explains the bottling process and gives a virtual tour of the Halsey mobile bottling line that is used at Merry Edwards Winery.
To see the full lineup of award-winning wines from Merry Edwards Winery – including the recently released Spring editions, and for more on her story and the story of her estate, please visit the Merry Edwards website by clicking here. Cheers!