Louis Roederer Acquires Merry Edwards Winery | Beverage Industry Enthusiast
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Louis Roederer Acquires Merry Edwards Winery

French firm Maison Louis Roederer purchased one of the most prominent California Pinot Noir producers, Merry Edwards Winery, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal, which closed February 22, 2019, includes the Russian River Valley winery facility, its brands, estate vineyards and inventory.

While Louis Roederer began expanding outside Champagne in 1982 with Roederer Estate in California’s Anderson Valley, this is the company’s first move into higher-priced Sonoma County.

Winery founder Merry Edwards said the sale puts her legacy as a winemaker and winery owner in good hands. Producing 28,000 cases annually and with almost universal rave reviews for her wines, Edwards and husband, Ken Coopersmith, built one of California’s most successful Pinot Noir programs since the winery’s founding in 1997 in Sebastopol, California.

Part of the winery’s attractiveness is its strong direct-to-consumer program, which accounts for 52% of its sales that overall average $54 a bottle, according to Wines Vines Analytics. Merry Edwards is known primarily for Pinot Noir from single vineyards in the Russian River Valley, but also makes a popular Sauvignon Blanc and a small amount of Chardonnay. Ten of the winery’s 2016 Pinot Noirs rated between 90-95 points in Wine Enthusiast blind tastings.

Frédéric Rouzaud is president of the family-owned Roederer firm, possibly best known for its prestige cuvée Champagne, Roederer Cristal. He described the purchase as a love story fueled by admiration for Edwards as an entrepreneur and winemaker, and for the vineyard terroirs from which she makes her wines.

Xavier Barlier, Roederer’s U.S. spokesman, said the transaction includes 79 acres of owned and farmed vineyards, such as the Coopersmith vineyard where the winery is situated, the Maefield Guest House and Barn in the middle of Maefield vineyard and Meredith Estate vineyard.

In addition, long-term-leased properties such as the Georganne vineyard will be included along with Edwards and Coopersmith’s new home vineyard, Richaven.

Roederer planned no immediate changes, Barlier said. Merry Edwards will remain the general manager for the 2019 harvest, and her winemaker, Heidi von der Mehden, will also stay on, he said.

The winery’s avid wine club members were told there would be no change in their benefits, purchase opportunities or wine release dates. Edwards worked with International Wine Associates in making the sale.

Edwards is among California’s first women winemakers, having earned a master’s degree in food science with an emphasis in enology in 1973 from the University of California, Davis. She became the winemaker at Mount Eden Vineyards in 1974 and later helped build the winery and make wine for Matanzas Creek. Edwards made wine for her own Merry Vintners label and was winemaker for Laurier Winery.

She began to acquire land in the Russian River Valley in 1996, launched Merry Edwards wines the next year and eventually completed the Merry Edwards winery facility for the 2007 harvest.

Since 1990, Roederer has acquired other family-owned wineries including Ramos Pinto in Portugal (1990), Champagne Deutz in Champagne and Delas Frères in the France’s Rhône Valley (1993), Château de Pez in Bordeaux (1995), Domaines Ott in the South of France (2004), Scharffenberger Cellars in Mendocino County (2004) and Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac, Bordeaux (2007). In addition to sparkling wine producer Roederer Estate in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, Roederer also launched Domaine Anderson there to make still wines in 2012.