Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
01.21.2013  
 

Pomar Junction Winery Doubles Acreage

Vineyard manager/owner Dana Merrill buys Weyrich property

 
by Jane Firstenfeld
 
 
pomar junction
 
The farmhouse that came with Pomar Junction's acquisition is an ideal space for wine club, media and other events, according to owner Dana Merrill.
Templeton, Calif.—With his recent acquisition of 90-plus producing vineyard acres formerly owned by the defunct Martin and Weyrich Winery, seventh-generation California farmer Dana Merrill effectively doubled bearing acres for his family’s Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery. Merrill has been growing grapes on the Central Coast for decades.

As owner of Mesa Vineyard Management, he oversees an estimated 8,000 acres of premium grapes for clients. In 2002, like many old-line farmers, he saw the wisdom of going vertical and began producing wine at Pomar Junction with his son, Matt Merrill, who serves as general managing partner. Jim Shumate was named winemaker in 2011. According to WineVinesDATA, the winery produces 6,000 cases a year with an average bottle price of $25.

About a 1.5 miles from Pomar Junction, Martin and Weyrich Winery was a pioneer in San Luis Obispo County, producing well-received vintages starting in 1981. In the 2000s, an ambitious effort to develop a luxe resort crashed headfirst into the recession: Like similar projects across the continent, Villa Toscana went belly-up. By 2009, the business was bankrupt, with a reported $48 million owed to creditors.

Merrill purchased part of the property, not including Villa Toscana in Paso Robles. He declined to disclose what he paid, but told Wines & Vines that he got a good deal that included vineyards, undeveloped acreage and an enormous home.

The fancy farmhouse
Though it is not exactly suited to Dana Merrill’s more rustic personal taste, he said, “We’re restoring it and going to live there.” The home sits atop 2,000 square feet of “ornate” wine cellars that provide not only storage but also an ideal space for wine club, media and other private events. “That infrastructure is more than I’d have in my house,” he said. “There’s an infinity pool, and it’s on a secluded knoll. It feels like it would go together with what we do. Time will tell.”

The structure was in deteriorated condition when Merrill bought it. “The bank owned it, and had someone watching it, but typical of distressed properties, lenders don’t want to put more into it than they needed to if it costs twice as much as they’ll get back,” he acknowledged.

The deal worked for him, though—especially the outbuildings he’ll use to store much of the mechanized equipment that increasingly tend his vineyards. For Merrill, the opportunity for a residence was secondary to the potential for a machine shop.

“Tractors, harvesters—that equipment is expensive. Emotionally, you want to put them all in a building, but can you afford to build that?” The new property, he said, “gives us a better shot at making that work; it is centrally located as a main shop.”

Of the 278-acre parcel, 93 acres are vineyards planted about 15 years ago, Merrill said. “They should have a good 10 years left in them,” he said of the vines. The varieties will complement his marketing mix, including Cabernet Franc, Roussanne and Tempranillo. Pomar Junction’s current 4,500-case lineup features Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Viognier and Chardonnay.

Room to grow
Merrill estimated that an additional 60 acres are suitable for vineyards. A canny farmer, he is not rushing into that until “we make sure we really map the soils and get the blocks set up.” Typically, area soils are linne callado—calcareous with dark clay in the upper levels—and the new property contains some of this. “Grapes love it,” Merrill said.

The Pomar Junction tasting room, housed in an antique caboose and boxcar on a short length of track, capitalizes on Templeton’s past as a railroad hub built by Southern Pacific, but does not offer a vantage point of vineyards.

With its wine cellar for storage and private tastings, and vineyard proximity, Merrill believes his new acquisition will provide perspective to invited guests, including the all-important wine club. “I believe half of our direct-to-consumer sales come back to our wine club,” which currently has some 600 members, he said. “I’ve heard how important a tasting room is to a small brand. It brings better prices from distributors, and visitors bring other people back.”

A leader in California’s wine sustainability movement, Merrill was instrumental in creating the SIP (Sustainability in Practice) program launched in 2008. Developed by the Central Coast Vineyard Team, vineyards and wineries throughout California have since undergone SIP’s rigorous, independently audited requirements to become certified, including “a good chunk” of Merrill’s vineyards.

The program is growing, he said, as more consumers recognize the distinctive SIP certification stamp. “It’s starting to mean something, even in the lower price ranges,” Merrill said. “We’d like to see it on a Trader Joe’s brand. A sustainable certification like SIP adds value.”

The SIP program advocates retaining natural habitats on vineyard properties. Merrill said that at his new property, “I could get into creek restoration. It’s gratifying to be able to leave a property better than you found it. Water is such a precious resource.”

What this property eventually will be called is still undecided. “At the moment, we’re considering Pomar Canyon or Creston Ridge,” according to Merrill. “Pomar Canyon” is a potential Paso Robles sub-appellation, so the name “could fit from that standpoint,” Merrill said.

In 2007, local growers withdrew a petition asking that the TTB divide the AVA into East and West sides. Merrill suggested that a more apt division might be “North and South” sides, to reflect more accurately the influence of cool Pacific winds from the Templeton Gap.

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 $562 million
5%
$7,549 million
6%
June 2013 $535 million $7,094 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 $87 million
17%
$1,669 million
11%
June 2013 $74 million $1,510 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 300
34%
220
21%
June 2013 224 182
     
 
MORE » Released on 07.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wines & Vines
Packaging Conference
 
Learn More »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • July 30 - August 1
     
    Indy International Wine Competition
     
  • August 1-3
     
    West of West Festival
     
  • August 2
     
    Urban Wine Xperience
     
  • August 5
     
    Fresno State Grape Day
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Roundup is not benign. It does not always break down in a day or two...
Reader: Robert Rex
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Mitigating water use in the vineyard in the first place is also an applicable tactic....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Having managed vineyards that have used both approaches, I would say that a diverse approach...
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Sales Representative (...
 Manhattan, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Harvest Vineyard/Winer...
 Napa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Central Texas Regional...
 Austin, TX
Sales and Marketing
 Houston Area Regional ...
 Houston, TX
Sales and Marketing
 Credit And Customer Se...
 New-York, NY
General Administration and
 Sales Executive
 Flexible, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Central Regional Sales...
 Chicago, IL
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Sales Ass...
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Wine Technician, Stags...
 Napa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Sales Representative -...
 San Francisco, CA
Sales and Marketing
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.