Merry Edwards started her graduate work at UC Berkeley, and did not originally intend to become a winemaker. But after talking to her friend and UC Davis graduate student Andy Quady, she decided to transfer to UC Davis to pursue Food Science and Enology instead. “Looking through Andy’s books, I became fascinated. I was surprised to learn one could study winemaking as a discipline.”
In 1973, Merry Edwards was one of three women to graduate with a Masters in Enology from UC Davis. Rather than work in the lab, she wanted to pursue a winemaking career, but it wasn’t easy. Women winemakers were almost unheard of in California in those days, and Edwards had to overcome significant prejudice.
After a year of job hunting, the always forward-thinking Richard Graff hired her as winemaker for Villa Mount Eden. During her tenure at Villa Mount Eden, Edwards became fascinated with Pinot Noir. She even developed a Pinot clone which is still widely planted in California today.
In 1977, she left Villa Mount Eden and became the founding winemaker of Matanzas Creek Winery in Sonoma County’s Bennett Valley wine region. From the winery’s humble beginnings, Merry Edwards turned Matanzas Creek into a major brand in a matter of seven years.
After this triumph, Edwards decided to start her own label in the Russian River Valley. Merry Vintners produced Chardonnay from 1984 to 1989, but the timing was wrong, and the winery was a casualty of the down market of the late 1980s.
Despite this setback, Merry Edwards’ consulting services were always in demand, and she focused on this aspect of the business for the next several years. In 1997, she established her current venture, Merry Edwards Wines.
By that time, she also owned three premium-quality vineyards: Meredith Estate, Georganne, and Coopersmith (also the site of the production facilities). The winery focuses on small lots of Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast.