Longtime Ridge winemaker takes the helm at Napa’s Merus

When Invoice Foley bought Merus, the Napa vineyard had fallen on arduous occasions. In search of to boost Merus to the extent of Monte Bello in relation to high quality and recognition, Foley recruited Ridge winemaker Eric Baugher to take over the cabernet-focused operation.

Baugher left the enduring Cupertino vineyard in January 2021, after 27 years of constructing wine with Paul Draper.

A Santa Cruz local who graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1992 with a point in molecular biology and biochemistry, Baugher concept he may pursue a profession in drugs—his father used to be a dentist—however discovered that used to be no longer his calling. Whilst questioning what to do along with his existence, he noticed an advert from Ridge within the Santa Cruz Sentinel. They have been searching for a chemist. It used to be 1994. He used to be one in all 200 to use for the placement. The remainder is historical past.

Baugher changed into head winemaker at Ridge in 2004 and leader working officer in 2016. Whilst at Ridge, he completed 100-point rankings for the vineyard’s cabernet and Bordeaux-style blends in 2013 and 2017, two times incomes a spot on Wine Spectator’s Most sensible 100 wine listing.

When Baugher arrived at Merus, two issues needed to be finished straight away: salvage the 2019 antique and get fruit coated up for harvest 2021. The 2020 antique for Merus used to be totally misplaced to fireside, and the Merus vineyard slightly survived the blaze.

In June 2021, he used to be all by means of himself in Merus’s cavernous cellar in a cave. At Ridge, he’d been conversant in having a seasoned cellar workforce, lots of whom have been with Ridge for more than one generations. Nurtured by means of Draper and the affable Wilma Sturrock, who used to be Ridge’s president on the time of Baugher’s rent, the group used to be tight and the accolades ample.

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Now on this far flung nook of Napa, he used to be actually in a solitary outpost, clear of the bustle of Freeway 29.  He set to work separating the most efficient 2019 barrels, operating his magic on them, even including some new American oak barrels to the combination.

“I like Kentucky oak,” he says. “It provides such intensity and spice.”

Merus had essentially procured Coombsville fruit previously. Baugher, conversant in the depth of Monte Bello cabernet, sought after mountain fruit for harvest 2021. He used to be lucky to acquire cabernet sauvignon grapes from Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain and Penny Lane.

Tasting the 2021 barrel samples he pulled from those vineyards confirmed the type of intensity and attainable that one pals with Monte Bello. When he poured a few of these novices on the contemporary Collective Napa Barrel Public sale, the response from the attendees used to be vastly sure.

With only one harvest underneath his belt in Napa, Baugher is easily on his approach to turning Merus round. Because of this, Foley is giving him broader duties, and Baugher will likely be overseeing all of Foley’s ever-expanding homes in Napa Valley.

The Merus Visitor Revel in Middle and Caves, positioned at 424 Crystal Springs Highway in St. Helena, at the moment are open to our visitors by means of reservation best. To make reservations, e-mail [email protected]

For contributors at any of Merus’s sister homes or contributors of the Gourmand Membership, tasting charges get started at $150 according to individual.

 

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