The Wagner family legacy of winemaking has been carried on for three generations. The family’s deep roots of farming grapes and producing wine began in 1915 in the Napa Valley. Charlie F. Wagner and Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, along with their son, Chuck, established Caymus Vineyards in 1972. Chuck saw great potential for producing quality wines outside of the Napa Valley as well, and by 1988, Chuck began planting land in the Santa Lucia Highlands. This appellation, located in Monterey County, is along the cooler coastline, yielding early ripening for Chardonnay. Mer Soleil Chardonnay became the product of this quality chosen site, and has been run by Chuck’s eldest son, Charlie F. Wagner II, since 2001.
As a teenager, Charlie began making wine along side his father. Charlie and his brother Joe, winemaker of Belle Glos, grew up learning and carrying on the viticulture practices of the Wagner family. However, Charlie continually seeks innovation as he produces high quality Chardonnay. In 2006, he started a second Chardonnay label, Silver, which strayed away from the traditional barrel fermented Chardonnay. Silver is Charlie’s unoaked Chardonnay, fermented in cement vats and stainless steal tanks. Born and raised in the vineyards of Napa Valley, Charlie practically has wine in his blood. It is no surprise that he shares the passion of winemaking with his father and grandfather.
For the Wagners, it’s all about the farming. One important aspect of farming that the Wagners value is crop rotation. In Monterey County, Charlie farms 100 acres of lemons, some of which are the Meyer variety. The juicy, brilliant yellow fruit are sold through a local produce broker. The citrus aroma is often evident in the Mer Soleil and Silver Chardonnays, as the grapes and lemons are produced from the same soils and weather patterns. This is the result of the lemon orchards that surround the vineyards.
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