Merus Winemaker Eric Baugher was born and raised along the coast in Santa Cruz, California. Growing up, local wine from the Santa Cruz Mountains was a staple in his household and he recalls being fascinated with fermentation from a young age. Once of legal drinking age, he began collecting wine. “I was fascinated with what wine represented, it’s like a time capsule of events in that vintage of a bottle,” he said.
Eric attended UC Santa Cruz where he graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. After graduation and while researching graduate schools, an opportunity as a chemist at Ridge Vineyards presented itself. Though only intended to be a one-year position, Eric fell in love with the winemaking process and found a passion that would become his career.
From chemist, he worked his way up to Assistant Winemaker, then in 2004 became appointed Head Winemaker, then became Chief Operating Officer in 2016. During his long-term post at Ridge Vineyards, he achieved two 100-point scores for the winery’s cabernet and Bordeaux blends in 2013 and 2017, along with two wines earning a place on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines list.
Joining Merus Winery in 2021 gives Eric the opportunity to pursue a dream of working with top quality Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. “There is so much depth of flavor, texture and richness that can come from the Cabernet grape, it is my favorite varietal to work with.” Eric looks forward to building upon Merus’ history of high acclaim, utilizing his Bordeaux winemaking experience to create world-class Cabernet Sauvignon.
Eric resides mostly in St Helena and has a home in his hometown of Aptos. When he is not in the winery, you might find him on the hiking trails around wine country, or swimming and running on the beaches of Aptos. He enjoys spending time with his wife Mary, their two children Beau and Soa, and three dogs Chevy, Max, and Bolt.