The Story

Mer Soleil began thirty years ago with a drive from the Napa Valley down to the Santa Lucia Highlands in search of the best land to plant Chardonnay.

We put down roots in the region, drawn in by its down-to-earth vibe, rich farming history and weather that could not be more ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Started by Chuck Wagner — known for founding Caymus Vineyards with his parents in 1972 — Mer Soleil is now led by Chuck’s son, winemaker Charlie Wagner. Inheriting his family’s love of farming and adventurous spirit, he first spent time at the Mer Soleil vineyard in middle school as “punishment” when he got in trouble for bringing firecrackers to school. Like other members of his family, Charlie feels most at home in the vineyard. He has led Mer Soleil’s evolution, creating both SILVER unoaked Chardonnay and a more recently released Pinot Noir. Charlie is always eager to escort people in his truck down the area’s rustic roads, so that they too can experience a place unlike any other.

Winemaker Charlie Wagner began his winemaking career at 16, when he was granted permission to spend some of his school days working in the family’s Mer Soleil vineyard. Today, he says that he has “the most blessed job in the world. We get to work with what Mother Nature gives us to create wines that people enjoy.”

It started as an experiment. Today, the scent of lemon blossoms can be picked up in our Chardonnay.

Inspired by the diversity of farming in the Salinas Valley, we embraced the chance to try our hand at growing another crop. The Lisbon and Meyer lemons we planted on our Mer Soleil property have thrived in the frost-free climate of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Over time, an unexpected benefit emerged — hints of delicate lemon blossoms began gracing our Chardonnay, their scent and flavor carrying over from the nearby orchard. As farmers, we love how our work in the vineyard constantly evolves, and we’re always looking for new ideas to try.