In short, Meritage is a wine term used to describe Bordeaux-style red and white wines made by members of the Meritage Alliance. The Meritage Association itself says that it’s “used to identify handcrafted wines blended from the traditional ‘noble’ Bordeaux varietals“.
Learn Everything You Need to Know about Meritage in Video
The word Meritage is the combination of the words “merit” (as in worth) and “heritage”.
The word was chosen as the 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 aim of promoting blended wines of superior quality, mainly from California and Napa Valley at the time. That was because many Californian winemakers were frustrated with the varietal wine-labeling requirements in the US which obliges a winery to drop the name of the varietals like cabernet or Merlot is the wine contains less than 75% of it. So blended wines were considered of lesser quality, while of course the good ones aren’t. Hence the term Meritage to try and identify the good ones. Does that make sense? Let me know in the comments…
So to make a Meritage wine and use the term on your labels, well you have to be a member winery of the Alliance. It’s also suggested that you make less than 25,000 cases of your wine per year, which is 300,000 bottles, which honestly is quite a lot for a high-end wine anyway. So a fairly loose limit there.
Now the grape you can use in the blend though are more restrictive.
They are only the traditional grapes from the Bordeaux blend. Namely the 5 red grapes for red wines that are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenère.
And the 3 white grapes which are Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle.
Being an American thing more than anything, the huge majority of Meritage wines are from the US, Napa Valley and Sonoma County of course, but also Paso Robles, the Central Coast, Yakima Valley in Washington state. But you can find Meritage from Texas too, or other countries such as Canada, Argentina, Australia, Israel or even Mexico.
Listen and hear the correctly pronunciation of Meritage in the video below
The Most Popular/Best/Most Famous Meritage Wines from around the World
Some of the most thought-after and famous Meritage wines produced around the world include the following:
Rodney Strong 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, USA Arbor Bench Vineyards Meritage, Dry Creek Valley
Dry Creek Vineyard The Mariner Meritage
York Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – Meritage, Spring Mountain District
Lyeth Estate Meritage, Sonoma County
Foley Johnson Meritage, Rutherford, California
Cosentino Winery The Poet Meritage, Napa Valley
DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate, Yakima Valley, Washington
Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Meritage, California
Italics Fourteen Appellations Meritage, 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 Reserve Meritage
Le Vigne Nikiara Meritage, Paso Robles
Atalon Pauline’s Cuvee, Napa Valley
St. Francis Anthem Meritage, Sonoma Valley
Dry Creek Vineyard Meritage, Sonoma County
PureCru Wines ‘M. 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
Empyrean Eridanus Meritage, 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
Langtry Estate Guenoc Meritage Red, Lake County
Hogue Cellars Genesis Meritage, Columbia Valley
Clos LaChance Meritage, Central Coast
Marilyn Monroe Wines ‘Marilyn’ Meritage, Napa Valley
Kunde Family Estate 202 Meritage, Sonoma Valley
Beringer Vineyards Meritage, Knights Valley
Three Rivers Winery Meritage, Columbia Valley, Washington State