Merry Edwards Winery founder Merry Edwards  is a tenacious and gifted vintner who was honored as “Woman of the Year” at the YWCA’s Women, Wine & Cheese 2016 event on April 22, and for good reason.

Edwards is celebrated in Wine Country for many reasons, but here’s my list of whys.

1)        Edwards is a daring trendsetter.

When Edwards began her winemaking career in the 1960s she faced gender discrimination, but her perseverance paid off. She instigated changes in the recruitment at UC Davis, and broke through the glass ceiling in an industry

dominated by men. Here’s what I love: She refused to take positions as a laboratory technician, the traditional role of women in the wine industry at the time. The take-away? She was willing to be daring in a man’s world.

2)        Edwards’ research actually made the wine industry change course.

For her master’s thesis, she created a method to analyze the lead in wine. She followed this up with a large-scale survey and her findings spurred the wine industry to make a huge shift. It discontinued the production and use of lead capsules, the caps covering the cork, in the 1980s.

3)        Edwards is a masterful winemaker, with her specialty pinot noir, although not limited to this varietal.

Her pinots are a rare treat, complex wines with depth. I’m also taken by her sassy sauvignon blanc.

4)        Edwards is known for her brilliant, laser-sharp focus.

I wrote a Sonoma magazine story on Edwards a few years ago and it focused on all the winemakers she has mentored. Many winemakers talked about Edwards’ passion and exacting ways. They said Edwards could be intimidating because she was brilliant at keeping a laser-sharp focus on the smallest details of so many projects at one time.

5)        Finally, Edwards makes killer pie.

On a personal note, I’ve had the good fortune to be at a Fourth of July gathering with Edwards a few years back. There were a line-up of pies and Edwards made one of them – the blackberry pie. I found it amusing that it was just as tasty as her wines. The pie had a great concentration of fruit — knockout.

Edwards is — no doubt — one of Sonoma County’s finest.