Don’t mention “Sideways” to Keith Mietz.
If you’re not familiar, that’s the film that included a profanity laced diatribe against Merlot. “When we first opened the winery in 1989, we made Merlot from the 11 acres right outside of our winery,” Mietz recalls. “That’s all we grew and the only varietal we made for quite a few years.”
Keith and Nancy Mietz bought an old neglected vineyard in 1978. In 1981 they decided to replant Merlot on the property. In prusuit of growing fine wine they used the formula: vine health, plus optimum yields, equals balanced, mature fruit. Keith made his first vintage from the property in 1989 under the label Mietz Cellars. “But in the early 2000s, Merlot lost its darling status and was waning in the marketplace,” he adds. “Then came ‘the movie’ and Merlot fell out of favor, even if it was a good Merlot. We had not made Merlot since 2002.”
Lucky for us Keith did not so easily give up his love of Merlot and has resumed making the varietal. A fair share of the production goes into making his award winning Claret (a blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot). This wine makes us fall in love with Merlot all over again. Along the way, Keith has added many other varietals under the Mietz label since the first vintage. With his daughter Alexa as assistant winemaker, they continue to follow his original formula. Using grapes from Dry Creek Valley and the Russian River Valley these limited production wines offer big names and big tastes at small prices. At $35 a bottle or less these wines are our picks for best wines buys this week.
Click HERE for our current selections of Mietz Wines.