In short, Méritage is a wine term used to describe the Bordeaux-style red and white wines made by members of the Meritage Alliance. The Meritage Association itself says that it is "used to identify artisanal wines blended from traditional `` noble '' Bordeaux grape varieties".
Learn everything you need to know about Meritage on video
The word Meritage is the combination of the words "merit" (as in value) and "heritage".
The word was chosen as a brand name to convey the combined sense of quality and tradition.
So how did this word come about? The Meritage Alliance, which is a non-profit organization, was founded in 1988 with the goal of promoting premium quality blended wines, primarily from California and Napa Valley at the time. Indeed, many California winemakers were frustrated with the labeling requirements for varietal wines in the United States, which force a winery to drop the name of varietals like Cabernet or Merlot if the wine contains less than 75%. The blended wines were therefore considered to be of lower quality, while of course the good ones are not. Hence the term Meritage to try to identify the good ones. Does this make sense? Let me know in the comments…
So to make a Meritage wine and use the term on your labels, you have to be a member of the Alliance cellar. It's also suggested that you make less than 25,000 cases of your wine per year, or 300,000 bottles, which is honestly a lot for a premium wine anyway. So a pretty loose limit there.
Now the grapes you can use in the assembly are more restrictive.
These are only the traditional grapes of the Bordeaux blend. Namely the 5 red grapes for red wines which are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenère.
And the 3 white grapes that are Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle.
Being an American thing more than anything, the vast majority of Meritage wines come from the United States, Napa Valley and Sonoma County of course, but also Paso Robles, the central coast, the Yakima Valley in the Washington State. But you can also find Meritage from Texas, or other countries like Canada, Argentina, Australia, Israel or even Mexico.
Hear and hear the correct pronunciation of Meritage in the video below
Most popular / best / most famous Meritage wines from around the world
Some of the most famous and renowned Meritage wines produced in the world are as follows:
Strong Rodney Symmetry Meritage, Alexander Valley
Sterling Vineyards Vintner's Collection Meritage, Central Coast
Estancia Estates Reserve Meritage, Paso Robles
Trump Winery Meritage, Monticello, Virginia
Chateau Ste. Michelle Artists Series Meritage - Red Blend, Columbia Valley, United States Arbor Bench Vineyards Meritage, Dry Creek Valley
Dry Creek The Mariner Meritage Vineyard
York Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - Méritage, Spring Mountain District
Lyeth Estate Meritage, Sonoma County
Foley Johnson Meritage, Rutherford, CA
Cosentino Winery The Poet Meritage, Napa Valley
DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate, Yakima Valley, Washington
Cave Robert Mondavi Private Selection Meritage, California
Italics Fourteen Meritage Appellations, Napa Valley
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Meritage, Okanagan Valley, Canada
Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Red Blend, California
Trinitas Cellars Meritage, Napa Valley
Geyser Peak Winery Alexandre Réserve Meritage
The Nikiara Meritage Vineyard, Paso Robles
Cuvée Atalon Pauline, Napa Valley
Saint Francis Anthem Heritage, Sonoma Valley
Dry Creek Vineyard Meritage, Sonoma County
Mr. Coz 'Meritage, Napa Valley
King Family Vineyards Meritage, Monticello
Summerhill Pyramid Winery OM Organic Meritage, Okanagan Valley, Canada
Kirkland Signature Meritage, Napa Valley
Jefferson Vineyards Meritage, Monticello
Nk'Mip Cellars Mer'r'iym Meritage, Okanagan Valley, Canada
Cooper's Hawk Winery Lux Meritage, California
Llano Estacado Signature Meritage Red, Texas
Eridanus Empyrean Heritage, Yakima Valley
Montesquieu Derenoncourt Meritage, Napa Valley
Bodega Benegas 'Benegas Lynch' Libertad Vineyards Meritage, Maipu, Argentina
Fivewise Meritage Blend, Central Coast
Sunstone Eros Estate Merlot Cab Franc Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley
Hayes Valley Meritage, Central Coast
Seabiscuit Ranch Superfecta Meritage, Mendocino County
Maroon Wines Meritage Black Label, Napa Valley
Opolo Vineyards Rhapsody Meritage, Paso Robles
Hahn Family Wines Meritage, Central Coast
Pico & Vine Meritage, Napa Valley
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors' Grand Reserve Meritage, Okanagan Valley, Canada
Lake Breeze Vineyards Meritage, Naramata, Canada
Domaine de Langtry Guenoc Meritage Red, Lake County
Hogue Cellars Genesis Meritage, Columbia Valley
Clos LaChance Meritage, Central Coast
Marilyn Monroe Wines 'Marilyn' Meritage, Napa Valley
Kunde 202 Meritage Family Estate, Sonoma Valley
Beringer Vineyards Meritage, Knights Valley
Three Rivers Winery Meritage, Columbia Valley, Washington State
Learn more about Meritage wines on meritagealliance.com
We would recommend either Wineworks Premium or Wineworks Superior as your first 30 Bottle Kit Wine. Both of these ranges are designed to produce a good quality wine that is ready to drink within 2-4 weeks but will benefit if left up to 6-8 weeks. Furthermore, they also have a great selection of wines to choose from.
If you’ve never made wine before or you simply don’t have any of the equipment or ingredients any longer then you could purchase one of our bundles. These bundles allie all the required equipment along with your prefered wine coffret so that you can have everything delivered to your door and just get started. The Wineworks Superior Starter Bundles are a great choice if you want to keep the equipment budget down but still choose the quality of wine you’d like to go for. Whereas, the Wineworks Luxury Starter Bundles offer a better quality equipment pack and still let you choose from a great choice of wine kits.
The two most important aspects of making wine are Cleanliness and Temperature. Firstly remember everything that comes into contact with the wine should be cleaned and sterilised ( see below ). Secondly maintain a constant temperature between 21-26°C ( 69-79°F ). It is much better to be on the cool side and constant than hot one minute and cold the next. Airing cupboards are definitely no, no’s. ( See below )
Clean and sterilise all equipment. Here’s a selection of Sterilisers you can use and if you not quite sure which steriliser to go for then you can take a look at our Beginners Wine Making Part 1 - Cleaning, Sterlising
Wineworks Superior wines : These usually take 10-15 days to ferment, and a further week to clear. Again the wine can be drunk immediately but we recommend ageing it 4 weeks but you can leave it up to 12 months. The time you will leave it will depend very much on your stocks. So get plenty built up. The reds benefit more than the whites with ageing. Certain kits ( see the list below ) are suited more to the experienced wine maker and take around 4 weeks to ferment and then left for a further 2 weeks. These products does really benefit from ageing. All the packs we list in this section require little ageing.
As it’s new to you it will probably take in all 2 hours for your first batch. However, once you are used to it 1 hour is about the maximum amount of time needed. We would also point out bar the bottling side; it takes just as long to make 6 bottles as it does to make 30 bottles, so we strongly recommend you make the larger quantity. After all 6 bottles doesn’t go very far as we said before !
From our experience it is much better to maintain a constant temperature than a fluctuating one. We suggest 21-26°C ( 69-79°F ), although if it is cooler than this, it is not a problem, it just takes slightly longer to ferment. If you can’t maintain this then we supply three different forms of heating equipment : Brew Belt / Heat BeltThis is a simple insulated electric cable that wraps round your conteneur and provides a gentle heat. It is very flexible and extremely easy to use. Heat Tray ( 4 demi/5 Gallon Fermenter ) This is like a flat tray that provides a gentle continuous heat that goes under the fermenter. Immersion HeaterThis drops into the container, through the bung and can be thermostatically controlled to maintain the juste temperature. Similar to a fish tank heater. All these can be added to our starter kit packages. See our scène showing the genres of heating equipment available for your fermentation.
It is important to clean
If you’ve made it this far, hopefully understanding a bit of what we’ve said, then you’ll want to know how much it will cost to get started ! As you may have noticed, we’ve put together a couple of equipment packs which include everything you need, and take the confusion out of buying. You can make your first 30 bottles of Wine for approximately £65. 00. That’s all in ( Equipment