Red Hills Lake County AVA

Joy Merrilees, Director, Winemaking and Production, Shannon Ridge Family of Wines

Joy Merilees Muse Photography Shannon Ridge Family of WinesJoy Merrilees Muse Photography

Joy Merrilees has been making wine in Lake County, California and abroad since 2002. Her drive to produce top quality wines and excitement for discovery are evident in every bottle.

While finishing her Plant Science and Landscape Design degree at Humboldt State University she skipped across the globe and spent a year abroad at Lincoln University in New Zealand, falling into the wine industry 8,000 miles from home.

Just out of college she worked for a vineyard management company in New Zealand and spent her first harvest there in 2002. On the edge of deportation, Joy returned to her home town in Lake County where she then spent 10 years honing her skills under Jed Steele, an iconic Californian winemaker.

At the same time, she continued abroad to harvest with the likes of J. Christopher in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, Valli Vineyards in Central Otago & Isabel Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand, and Margaret River Vintners in Western Australia.

To enhance her experience, Joy is continually educating herself at UC Davis and Sonoma State University. Her passion continues at home where she and her husband Bruce, a vineyard manager, have their own vineyards on their property in Lake County.

“I would sneak into the enology classes at Lincoln, because it was more exciting than soil science. I started in this industry at the bottom, in the field, amongst the vines, where the real winemaking starts.” ~ Joy Merrilees