Merlo Family Estates Tasting Room
Summary: The Merlo Family Estate Vineyards tasting room is located at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, fifteen minutes south of Sacramento. The vineyards and winery are located in the far northern area of California.
The Merlo Family Estate vineyards are located in northern California. Some might consider the area desolate but we can only imagine that the beauty of the landscape makes it all worthwhile. The vineyards are located in Trinity County.
The owners Ray and Robin Merlo were in the medical field prior to establishing the estate vineyards and winery. This winery and vineyards are a result of a visit to Italy where they visited Ray’s relatives who had been making wine for their families. The visit sparked the desire for Ray and Robin to start their own winemaking journey.
An acquaintance of theirs, Randall Meredith, had a vineyard in Hyampom north of Mendocino. The Merlos spent their spare time visiting Randall and helping with the vineyards. Eventually they partnered with Randall.
In the late 1990’s the Merlos purchased Hyampom Valley Ranch, prepared the soil and planted the vines. The Merlo Family Estate Vineyards winery was built in 2002 followed by a second winery in 2004. Today the vineyard of 45 acres includes Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. The vineyard at 1,250’ elevation has a 50-degree diurnal temperature swing during the summer.
The winemaker and viticulturist is Steven Canter. “If we grow the grapes right we don’t have to fix the wine.”
We tasted several wines at the tasting room in the Old Sugar Mill.
Chardonnay 2012 Trinity County was yellow with notes of spice, pear, vanilla and some butter. This wine with 13.9% alcohol was medium/full bodied and had high acidity. The wine retails for $20. Syrah Rosé 2012 Trinity County was a red/orange color. The wine with 13.4% alcohol offered notes of red berry fruit. The wine was medium-bodied with a medium to high acidity. The retail price is $12.
Pinot Noir 2012 Trinity County was a translucent ruby color with a pink hue. This 14.2% alcohol wine had notes of raspberry and leather. The wine with medium, chewy tannins was medium/full-bodied and had a high acidity. The wine retails for $22. Zinfandel 2009 with 15.1% alcohol was an opaque ruby color. The wine offered notes of dark fruits, perfume and leather. The full-bodied wine with high acidity had bold tannins. The wine retails for $20.
Syrah 2009 was an opaque dark ruby color. The wine, with 13.9% alcohol, offered dark fruit notes of blackberries and plums. The full-bodied wine had bold tannins and high acidity. The wine retails for $20. Syrah 2007 with 14.4% alcohol was a dark ruby opaque color. The wine offered smoke and gamey notes with bold tannins. The wine was medium/full-bodied with medium/high acidity. The wine retails for $20. Blackbird, the most popular wine, was a blend of Syrah and Zinfandel. This was an opaque dark ruby color. The wine had perfume and dark berry notes with bold tannins. The wine was full-bodied with medium to high acidity. The retail price is $15. Sangiovese 2002 was a translucent ruby color with a sienna hue. The wine had notes of cherry with bold chewy tannins. The wine had medium to bold tannins and acidity. Syrah 2006, a port-style wine, offered dried fruit notes. The wine was sweet with medium chewy tannins. The wine was distilled to reach the 23.5% alcohol.
While trying to visit the winery and vineyards in northern California may be difficult, be sure to try to visit the Merlo Family Estate Vineyards tasting room in the Old Sugar Mill close to Sacramento.
Merlo Family Estate Vineyards tasting room
Old Sugar Mill
35265 Willow Avenue
Clarksburg, CA 95612
GPS: N38º 25.367’ W121º 32.020’
Article written September 2014
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