Mer Soleil is Chardonnay made in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County. The estate also makes a Chardonnay called Silver. Mer Soleil is fermented in French oak, Silver is unoaked. Both are part of the Wagner Family of Wine, an umbrella company for a portfolio of family-produced wines, the most famous of which is Caymus. Chuck Wagner, current patriarch of the Wagner family, descends from Alsatian immigrants who settled in Rutherford in 1906 and produced bulk wines until Prohibition. Several generations later in 1972 the family established Caymus Vineyards, widely recognized as one of Napa’s finest producers. Today Chuck Wagner’s adult children are also involved in the family’s wine enterprise, which includes the labels Red Schooner, Mer Soleil and Emmolo. Charlie Wagner is winemaker and viticulturist from Mer Soleil and Silver.
Santa Lucia Highlands AVA is a 12-mile long, narrow strip of an appellation wedged along the eastern hillsides of the Santa Lucia mountain range. Given its proximity to Big Sur and the Gabilan Mountain Range to the northeast, Santa Lucia a cool-climate wine growing district. Morning sun is often followed by maritime winds and fog in the afternoon, a weather pattern that prolongs the growing season and means long, gentle ripening of the grapes. Spanish missionaries planted vineyards in the district in the 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that modern winemakers planted vineyards and began making high quality wine. The district received AVA status in 1991 and today there are 6,000 vineyard acres in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Pinot Noir is the dominant grape planted, followed by Chardonnay and Riesling.
This white variety originated in Burgundy, but is now grown around the world. Its flexibility to thrive in many regions translates to wide flavor profile in the market. Chardonnay is commonly used in making Champagne and sparkling wines.