5 Sonoma & Napa Wineries for Merlot Maniacs

Sideways may have given merlot a bad rap, but the wine has bounced back. In Wine Country, it's on the up and up.

Merlot is back, baby. The delicious, easy drinking varietal of red wine, rich with silky, savory goodness, suffered a blow when the movie Sideways declared pinot noir king in California and merlot the not-so-cute stepchild of the wine world. Sales plummeted due to the “Sideways effect,” but things are on the up and up around here.

Merlot sales are on the rise and, I admit, after years of being a pinotphile, I’ve become a merlot maniac. Whether you’re looking to branch out, find yourself bored of the regular pinot and cab, or just want to reconnect with the easy-drinking, affordable wine of your youth, click through the gallery above to discover five of my favorite Sonoma and Napa wineries for sipping the day away with a hearty glass of merlot.