2020 Meritage

October 2020I’m great at complicating things. My intention was to produce 2 wines this fall: 1st run Merlot-heavy Bordeaux blend that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot — and a 2nd run wine using the pomace from the 1st run.

Then Lorraine & I toured the Biltmore Estate, and in the wine tasting I tried a wine that is a mixture of Bordeaux and Rhone grapes + Zinfandel. That got me thinking.

So … I ended up substituting 4 lugs of Zinfandel for 4 lugs of Merlot.  Still gonna make 2 wines, a 1st and 2nd run …

During pressing I got a hare-brained idea and put free run wine (wine drained from the pomace without pressing) of both Merlot and the Vinifera Blend in the 54 liter demijohn, with the intention this goes in barrel #1. That wine is tracked in this log and is called Meritage (see below).

The pressings from the Merlot and Vinifera blend, plus all the Zinfandel, goes in barrel #2, which is Meritage Plus.

Eric & I tasted both Merlot — one had French and the other had American fermentation oak. They taste totally different. So I want to preserve 5 bottles of each varietal for later comparison.

Plus I’m making a 2nd run wine … dang! I’m good at complicating things!

Meritage — this is a name coined by the Meritage Association in the late 80’s to provide non-Bordeaux wineries with a way to identify their wines as a Bordeaux-style blend, without infringing on the “Bordeaux” copyright & trademark.

This wine is made only from Bordeaux grapes … grown in California. I thought of many names, but Meritage (rhymes with “heritage”) fit the bill, so I’m using it.

This wine is the free-run wine from 3 batches, which I’ve condensed into this log. As I’m keeping 1 gallon of each of those wines, those logs remain available.



Grape Merlot 1: 144# Merlot from Lanza Vineyards, Suisun Valley, CA, American fermentation oak, SG 1.102

Merlot 2: 144# Merlot from Lanza Vineyards, Suisun Valley, CA, French fermentation oak, SG 1.102

Vinifera Blend: 36# each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. French fermentation oak, SG 1.100

Enzyme 6.5 total tsp Scottzyme Color Pro
Fermentation Oak 2 lb shredded French oak, medium toast

1 lb shredded American oak, medium toast

Yeast 3 packages Red Star Premier Rouge
Nutrient 12 tsp Fermax + 6 tsp Fermax each
Sulfite potassium metabisulfite added at various points (see below)
Aging Oak 5 oz medium toast Hungarian oak cubes in the barrel


This first section is an amalgamation of the starting of the 2020 Merlot 1, Merlot 2, and Vinifera Blend wines. 1 gallon of each of these wines is preserved so I’ll have 5 bottles of each available for later comparison. 10/10/2020
Crushed & destemmed the grapes. Grapes at 52 F, have to warm up to 65 F before inoculation.

Added Scottzyme Color Pro for improved color extraction and 1 lb fermentation oak.

SG 1.100 to 1.102
Temperature rose to 67 F in the afternoon. Added 12 tsp Fermax and yeast to each fermenter. 10/11/2020
SG 1.100 to 1.102
Added 6 tsp Fermax to each fermenter. 10/14/2020
SG 1.059 to 1.060
Drained the free run wine from each batch, which is combined to create this blend.

Medium pressed the pomace, which is the Meritage Plus blend.

SG 0.998
Racked, filled barrel with excess in smaller containers. 11/20/2020
SG 0.996
Racked smaller containers, prepping to rack barrel. Homogenized all smaller containers, including the the excess from the Merlot and Vinifera blend. This produced 2 gallons of topup wine. 02/25/2021
SG 0.995
Racked the barrel and mixed in the topup wine to homogenize the wine. Added 3/4 tsp K-meta. Racked back into the barrel + topup jugs. 03/07/2021
SG 0.995


Yield ? bottles
Alcohol ?%