The Merrill family can boast of an eight-generation lineage in the California farming industry, stretching back to the Mission era. The almond and fruit orchards eventually became the Pomar Junction vineyard. They also have a heritage in the railroad business, which is why you’ll find a boxcar and caboose on the grounds of the winery. They stand as a tribute to Marsha Merrill’s grandfather, the railroad engineer.
Dana and Marsha Merrill handle the farming and business end with son Matthew, while winemaker Jim Shumate turns the sustainably-raised grapes into their small-lot wines. Pomar Junction estate fruit - along with choice lots from other vineyards managed by their Mesa Vineyard Management company - are grown in what the Merrills say is the most environmentally conscious way possible.
Dana Merrill was ahead of the curve on the sustainability issue, helping found the Central Coast Vineyard Team. That organization’s mission statement says they “identify and promote the most environmentally safe, viticulturally and economically sustainable farming methods, while maintaining or improving quality and flavor of wine grapes.”
Pomar Junction Vineyard was one of the first to be certified by the SIP program - Sustainability in Practice - an honor which “recognizes a vineyard’s commitment to environmental stewardship, equitable treatment of employees, and economic stability.” It took the Merrills six years to bring the vineyard up to their standards - and those of the CCVT.
Fittingly, Pomar Junction will be the site of the 2012 Earth Day Food & Wine Festival on April 21, an event which showcases sustainably produced wine and food products.
Pomar Junction kindly provided Now And Zin with a sample of their Brooster Red Wine Pomar Junction Vineyard, Paso Robles 2010.
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel also utilizes estate fruit and has a moderate - for Paso - 14.3% alcohol level. It’s aged in neutral French oak, retails for $18 and has a Stelvin screw cap closure.
Brooster's nose offers quite a whiff of alcohol at first, so breathing or decanting is a must. The fruit aromas are dark and tarry, with a hint of bramble. On the palate, that dark fruit leads the way with the tar close behind. There are notes of coffee and tea adding complexity and the tannins are rather forceful in this very dry wine. I liked it more with each sip.