MERCIER winery is located on Old River Road, between the
communities of Hopland and Ukiah in Mendocino County,
California. The vineyard is located on 2 +/- acres of
leased land in the McNabb Ranch area, also between Hopland
and Ukiah, which is on the west side of Mendocino Valley.
Andrea Swanton and Michael Mercier started the winery in
1998, with the goal of producing a very high quality Merlot that
would be rich in flavor, smooth and develop complexity as it
aged. They agreed to strict farming and wine production
guidelines subject to Mother Nature's whims in any given year.
Michael's passion for wine started at Ohio State
University, were he wrote a thesis on vineyard cultural
practices for the production of fine wine in 1980. Andrea's
love for wine making developed quickly during her time
spent in Northern California while the winery was being built,
and crystallized upon her first crush.
Jim Fetzer developed the vineyard in 1993. After his family
sold Fetzer Winery in 1992 Jim developed his new vineyard
using biodynamic farming techniques, with no pesticides or
herbicides and only organic fertilizer. Jim's goal was to
develop the finest biodynamic vineyard in Northern California.
Our vineyard is on bench land at the west end of McNabb
Ranch and the vineyard slopes gradually into the McNabb
Ranch floor, which sits above the Mendocino Valley.
The unique terrior, which makes our vineyard special, is the
amphitheater Landscape at the west end of McNabb ranch.
This area produces cool nights, moderate day temperatures
and is coupled with superior drainage from the gradual slope
and well-drained soils. The vineyard also has overhead
irrigation, which allows us to water during hot spells
(above 92 +/- degrees F). This type of irrigation is
crucial for as the grapes ripen; too much heat will shut
down the plants photosynthesis thereby affecting the
acid/brix (sugar) balance. The vineyard slope and soil
drainage is important too, for it doesn't allow water to
build up in the soil, which would be harmful to the
grapes. The grape yield is held between 2-3 tons per acre
primarily through viticulture practices.
All these elements allow the grapes to ripen slower than
most Merlot vineyards and allow the grapes to "hang"
typically to early or mid-October producing a very mature
grape that is still in balance between acidity and brix
and rich in flavor and color. These characteristics and
practices are available to few vineyards.
The grapes are typically harvested in early October. The
weak grape clusters are pruned out in the vineyard a few
times just prior to the harvest and then hand sorted at
crush. The fermentation process is in open top,
temperature-controlled tanks. Typically, the grapes are
"cold soaked" and then the temperature is allowed to rise
slowly. The cap is punched down and pumps over as desired.
Extended maceration varies depending on color, flavor and
tannins. After primary fermentation the wine is drawn off
into Allier French Oak Barrels to undergo malolactic
We do not use fining or filters.
This has been possible to date due to strict vineyard and
winery practices and Mother Nature. The final
blending of juices is critical. We limit our production
to between 200-275 cases per year.