Peter Marriam of Marriam Vineyards
What is your job?
I am the owner and vintner.
Where is your winery?
Our vineyard is located on the eastern edge of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma.
Why did you choose that location?
This area was one of the first vineyard sites planted back in the 1890s. Our vineyard site “Windacre” was most recently planted in the late 1970s, so the vines were 20 years old when we purchased it.
How many employees do you have?
We have just five full-time employees including myself. We have our two winemakers (Margaret Davenport and David Herzberg), both of whom came to us via UC-Davis. We also have two tasting room employees as well. Its small team; however very much a family.
Why did you choose wine?
Our passion for wine started in the late 1970s – early 1980s. At that point we were mostly drinking/collecting wines and I owned a wine shop in Massachusetts for 18 years. During that time we traveled to France and California often and in 1995 we started looking for vineyard land in California. We began purchasing the vineyards which would become Merriam Vineyards in 2000 & 2003.
Describe your wine in one word?
What is your favorite varietal?
Funny enough my favorite varietal is Pinot Noir. We are not currently producing it; however we do have a test site in which we will begin production of Pinot Noir this year. We took a four acre portion of our vineyards and planted Pinot Noir vines early in 2009.
What was the favorite wine that you produced and what set it apart from your other wines?
“Miktos” is my favorite. Only the best barrels are used to blend this Bordeaux-styled wine composed of Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Petite Verdot. “Miktos” in Greek means to mix, blend or come together.
What was your greatest ever wine experience?
It was an experience that we had in Beaune in Burgundy, France. We had been searching all day for Domaine Robert Arnoux and finally found it around dinner time that evening. Mr. Arnoux inststed that we stay and taste through all of his ’89 & ’90 wines. Needless to say we were there until late in the evening and I still treasure some of those ‘90s in my collection today.
What is your favorite meal to pair with one of your wines?
My favorite meal would be rack of lamb, crusted with Dijon mustard, with thyme, shallots & bread crumbs. I think this goes very well with quite a few of our wines.
What does terroir mean to you?
The right fruit grown in the right area. You have to match it with the climate, with the soils, root stock & clones to maximize the terrior’s effect on particular varieties.
Besides your own wines, who would you say is your favorite wine producer?
In our area of Sonoma, I would say Kosta Browne.
What do you hope for the future of your winery?
To create a legacy of handcrafted wines that can be passed along to our children.
What is your favorite thing outside of wine?
Growing up in the Northeast, I always took advantage of the outdoors. Skiing and fly-fishing are a passion, just as wine is. Can’t get enough of it!
What is your favorite sports team?
That would be the Red Sox! Every evening during the summer the Sox are on while preparing & having dinner. Summer is all about the vineyard, the cottage, food & wine with good friends, and the Sox!
If you were not into wine, what would you do?
I would have followed some other passion, be it the fishing industry or the skiing industry. Got to have passion for life!