Mer Soleil began thirty years ago with a drive from Napa Valley down the California coast in search of the best land to plant Chardonnay.
We put down roots in the Santa Lucia Highlands, nestled within the broader reach of Monterey County, drawn in by its down-to-earth vibe, rich farming history and weather that could not be more ideal for growing Chardonnay. 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 more recently, sourcing grapes from other parts of Monterey County in addition to the Santa Lucia Highlands. 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.
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 (which includes the area where Mer Soleil is based), 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 area’s frost-free climate. 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.