I have mentioned Meiomi Pinot Noir in other posts as a wonderful $22 bottle of wine. It has been under the Wagner Family banner since its inception in 2009. Yes, it does have a twist cap, but the “juice” inside the bottle is consistent and always worth the price of admission.
And in case you are not familiar with the Wagner Family of wines – they are the group responsible for Caymus – a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon ($70 & $100) – and Belle Glos – a very nice Pinot Noir ($40). You may have seen the bottle with the red wax that covers much of the surface. Conundrum ($20) is another great wine that I have written about and Mer Soleil is all part of their umbrella of brands.
Meiomi Pinot Noir started production in 2009 and in 2010, about 90,000 cases of Meiomi were sold. That number grew to 550,000 cases in 2014, and is on target to sell over 700,000 cases in 2015.
This little project began when Joe Wagner, the son of Chuck Wagner (the patriarch of the Wagner family), created and named a Pinot Noir wine after his grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, while working as a winemaker at Caymus. Lorna was one of the founders of Caymus Vineyards in 1972 (along with husband Charlie and son Chuck). The Belle Glos brand is driven by vineyard-designated Pinots – meaning that you can buy a Belle Glos Pinot from Dairyman Vineyard (Russian River Valley) or Clark & Telephone Vineyard (Santa Maria Valley). The fruit comes only from those particular vineyards. Believe it or not, once the 2004 movie SIDEWAYS pushed Pinot Noir sales into warp drive, Wagner made Belle Glos its own brand. Looking for a way to bring attention to this brand, he started sourcing lower-priced Pinot Noir grapes from the coastal vineyards of Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara. He figured out a way to make a great wine for $22. In 2013, Wine Spectator gave it 92 points. I mentioned earlier that you would consistently get high quality for the price. Wagner has stated, “If you don’t have consistency, you can’t win over the hearts of wine lovers.” When you think about the wines you like year after year, you know how true that statement is.
The name Meiomi is a word from the native, coastal dwelling Yuki and Wappo tribes that means “coast”. It’s a word that pays tribute to and symbolizes the origin of this Pinot Noir.
In August 2015, Joe Wagner signed a deal with Constellation Brands to sell Meiomi for $315 million. Keep in mind that this brand does not include any real estate – no vineyards. Joe will stay with the brand as a consulting winemaker for two years. He plans on investing that money in buying other vineyards – 2000 acres over the next five years.
You may not know the name Constellation Brands, but you certainly know a lot of the brands they own – their list of wines include Robert Mondavi Wines, Clos du Bois, Estancia, Ravenswood, Mark West, Ruffino, Simi, Mouton Cadet, Toasted Head, and Woodbridge… And then there’s Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico… And let’s not forget the Spirits – Svedka Vodka, Black Velvet, Casa Noble Tequila… So they’ve been in the business for many years and have acquired a lot of assets.
Another thing to note – In 2013, Meiomi started producing Chardonnay (hitting the shelves in 2014) – again sourcing the fruit from coastal vineyards of Monterey, Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties. Both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast gave that wine 90 points. It also sells for $22. The interesting thing here is that the Meiomi website doesn’t mention Chardonnay at all. So the question is will Meiomi continue to produce Chardonnay under the new ownership? Time will tell on that one.
Joe Wagner’s little wine project certainly has paid off big in a relatively short period of time. Now let’s hope that Constellation keeps in mind the quote from Wagner – “If you don’t have consistency, you can’t win over the hearts of wine lovers.”
(This article was written from information sourced from Wine Spectator, Robb Report and meiomiwines.com.)