What is a Meritage Wine? Explained – Glossary of Wine Terms

In short, Meritage is a wine term used to describe Bordeaux-style red and white wines made by members of the Meritage Alliance. The Meritage Association itself says that it’s “used to identify handcrafted wines blended from the traditional ‘noble’ Bordeaux varietals“.

Learn Everything You Need to Know about Meritage in Video


The word Meritage is the combination of the words “merit” (as in worth) and “heritage”.



The word was chosen as the brand name to convey the combined sense of quality and tradition.

So how did this word come about? The Meritage Alliance, which is a non-profit organization, was founded in 1988 with the aim of promoting blended wines of superior quality, mainly from California and Napa Valley at the time. That was because many Californian winemakers were frustrated with the varietal wine-labeling requirements in the US which obliges a winery to drop the name of the varietals like cabernet or Merlot is the wine contains less than 75% of it. So blended wines were considered of lesser quality, while of course the good ones aren’t. Hence the term Meritage to try and identify the good ones. Does that make sense? Let me know in the comments…

So to make a Meritage wine and use the term on your labels, well you have to be a member winery of the Alliance. It’s also suggested that you make less than 25,000 cases of your wine per year, which is 300,000 bottles, which honestly is quite a lot for a high-end wine anyway. So a fairly loose limit there.

Now the grape you can use in the blend though are more restrictive.

They are only the traditional grapes from the Bordeaux blend. Namely the 5 red grapes for red wines that are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenère.

And the 3 white grapes which are Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle.

Being an American thing more than anything, the huge majority of Meritage wines are from the US, Napa Valley and Sonoma County of course, but also Paso Robles, the Central Coast, Yakima Valley in Washington state. But you can find Meritage from Texas too, or other countries such as Canada, Argentina, Australia, Israel or even Mexico.

Listen and hear the correctly pronunciation of Meritage in the video below

The Most Popular/Best/Most Famous Meritage Wines from around the World

Some of the most thought-after and famous Meritage wines produced around the world include the following:

Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage, Alexander Valley

Sterling Vineyards Vintner’s Collection Meritage, Central Coast

Estancia Estates Reserve Meritage, Paso Robles

Trump Winery Meritage, Monticello, Virginia

Chateau Ste. Michelle Artists Series Meritage – Red Blend, Columbia Valley, USA Arbor Bench Vineyards Meritage, Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Vineyard The Mariner Meritage

York Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – Meritage, Spring Mountain District

Lyeth Estate Meritage, Sonoma County

Foley Johnson Meritage, Rutherford, California

Cosentino Winery The Poet Meritage, Napa Valley

DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate, Yakima Valley, Washington

Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Meritage, California

Italics Fourteen Appellations Meritage, Napa Valley

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Meritage, Okanagan Valley, Canada

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Red Blend, California

Trinitas Cellars Meritage, Napa Valley

Geyser Peak Winery Alexandre Reserve Meritage

Le Vigne Nikiara Meritage, Paso Robles

Atalon Pauline’s Cuvee, Napa Valley

St. Francis Anthem Meritage, Sonoma Valley

Dry Creek Vineyard Meritage, Sonoma County

PureCru Wines ‘M. Coz’ Meritage, Napa Valley

King Family Vineyards Meritage, Monticello

Summerhill Pyramid Winery OM Organic Meritage, Okanagan Valley, Canada

Kirkland Signature Meritage, Napa Valley

Jefferson Vineyards Meritage, Monticello

Nk’Mip Cellars Mer’r’iym Meritage, Okanagan Valley, Canada

Cooper’s Hawk Winery Lux Meritage, California

Llano Estacado Signature Meritage Red, Texas

Empyrean Eridanus Meritage, Yakima Valley

Montesquieu Derenoncourt Meritage, Napa Valley

Bodega Benegas ‘Benegas Lynch’ Libertad Vineyards Meritage, Maipu, Argentina

Fivewise Meritage Blend, Central Coast

Sunstone Eros Estate Merlot Cab Franc Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley

Hayes Valley Meritage, Central Coast

Seabiscuit Ranch Superfecta Meritage, Mendocino County

Maroon Wines Meritage Black Label, Napa Valley

Opolo Vineyards Rhapsody Meritage, Paso Robles

Hahn Family Wines Meritage, Central Coast

Pico & Vine Meritage, Napa Valley

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Meritage, Okanagan Valley, Canada

Lake Breeze Vineyards Meritage, Naramata, Canada

Langtry Estate Guenoc Meritage Red, Lake County

Hogue Cellars Genesis Meritage, Columbia Valley

Clos LaChance Meritage, Central Coast

Marilyn Monroe Wines ‘Marilyn’ Meritage, Napa Valley

Kunde Family Estate 202 Meritage, Sonoma Valley

Beringer Vineyards Meritage, Knights Valley

Three Rivers Winery Meritage, Columbia Valley, Washington State


Learn more about Meritage wines on meritagealliance.com

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