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Merry Edwards: Pairing Wine & Food

Merry Edwards: Pairing Wine & Food

Merry Edwards (photo from C.S.)

Carries Strong | Chef's Blade

Merry Edwards, Proprietor and Winemaker of Meredith Vineyard Estate, Inc., has been crowned the “Grande Dame” and “Queen” of Pinot Noir. Her cutting-edge work with this varietal in the 70’s and 80’s, when America was not ready to drink, never mind create great Pinot Noir, broke the mold for winemakers everywhere. Launching her own brand in 1997 placed her on the cusp of the exploding popularity of quality American Pinot Noir. But her prestigious work with this and other noble varietals did not begin in a vineyard, a crushing tank, or even a winery. Merry Edwards came to wine through food, understanding that the combination of wine and food creates an ultimate culinary euphoria.

Merry recalls that her mother did not spend a lot of time in the kitchen. But as Merry entered her teens, she began to experiment with baking from boxed cake and cookie mixes. Her interest in food continued when she bonded with a neighbor that she describes as “a real earth mother.” This neighbor took Merry under her wing and taught her how to bake cakes, cookies, and bread from scratch. Merry’s grandmother also helped, teaching her how to make “the best-ever pie crust,” for which she still receives accolades today!

In high school, Merry took interest in her mother’s small collection of rarely used cookbooks. Two books of particular interest were published by the California Wine Institute. Although her parents rarely drank alcohol of any type, young Merry’s requests for wine were accommodated because she would be using it for the recipes from those books. Her family loved her newly acquired cooking skills and dubbed her the family chef. Once in college, Merry continued her love of cooking, started to sample inexpensive wine and began home-brewing beer. She moved on from beer to create fruit wines made from leftovers at the farmers markets. Eventually, her interest in wine, and winemaking led her to UC Davis, where she obtained her MS in Food Science with a specialization in Enology.