A Look Into the Enchanting World of Pinot Meunier

Devon Kessler
March 1, 2024 | Features, Tasting Room | Devon Kessler

A Look Into the Enchanting World of Pinot Meunier

In the world of wine, Pinot Meunier stands as a distinctive and often overlooked grape variety, yet it plays a crucial role in crafting some of the most exquisite and nuanced wines. Originating from the renowned Pinot family, Pinot Meunier brings its unique character and charm to the vineyards. While Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris might take the spotlight, Pinot Meunier quietly thrives, contributing to the artistry of winemaking. Join us as we grow on a journey through the vineyards and cellars as we explore the fascinating nuances and untold stories behind the grape variety that adds a special touch to some of the finest wines in the world.


About five centuries ago, Pinot Meunier emerged as a distinct varietal. According to experts, the variety was widely grown throughout northern France and even though it is still prevalent in that area, it is now concentrated in the Champagne region. In this region, it is one of the three major grapes used in the making of sparkling Champagne wines due to its body and richness.

France reported about 30,000 acres of Pinot Meunier plantings in 2016. This accounts for approximately 80% of the variety in the entire world. Outside of the Champagne region, Pinot Meunier plantings can be found in the Loire Valley and Moselle but in dwindling quantities.

Outside of France, Pinot Meunier can be found in Germany but under the names Schwarzriesling, Müllerrebe, and Müller-Traube. In this region, Pinot Meunier is commonly used to produce red and rosé wines. However, the use of Pinot Meunier has only recently started to scale in German sparkling wine production. 

In the United States, the center for Pinot Meunier can be found in the Carneros AVA in California, but it can be found in multiple AVAs throughout the country - including the Leelanau Peninsula. 

Pinot Meunier can also be found being grown - in small quantities- throughout England, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, and New Zealand.


Wine experts have described Pinot Meunier as being a clonal mutation of the Pinot group. This means it shares the same DNA fingerprint as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and other Pinot derivatives. Meunier tends to be planted in areas that would be too cold for the other two to grow and is often used as an insurance grape against poor vintages as it buds later and ripens earlier. At Good Harbor Vineyards, our Pinot Meunier is grown in the same vineyard as our Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. 

When looking for a site to plant this variety, it is best to look for one that is well protected from damaging winds and frost pockets due to it being prone to stunted growth of vegetation. As we mentioned above, it is planted in the same vineyard as our Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc - which is in David’s Vineyard. David’s Vineyard is planted about 800 feet above sea level and sees the cold air draining into the valley that splits the vineyard. The variety is known to tolerate a wide range of soil types and prefers sunny slopes that maximize sunshine hours.


Pinot Meunier is characterized as a high-acid, cool-climate grape that tends to yield lighter and fruitier wines. For aromatics, you can expect to experience bing cherry, raspberry, strawberry, minerality, and forest floor. Your palate will notice the berry notes braced by acidic zip with a dusting of earthy, mushroomy notes.

The Napa Valley Wine Academy explains that the grape gets its name from the “downy, powdery appearance of its leaves, which, because of the fine silver hairs that coat their undersides, can seem as though they have been dusted with flour” - hence “Meunier” which means “miller” or “baker” in French.

Pinot Meunier can be produced in either a still wine or a sparkling wine (Champagne). Since this variety matures quicker than Pinot Noir, it makes it an ideal grape to help soften non-vintage Champagne wines while they’re young. But, experts explain that Pinot Meunier doesn’t age well on its own because it is prone to fall out of balance if not supported by its Champagne stablemates. High proportions of Pinot Meunier aren’t commonly used in vintage Champagne.

When it is blended in Champagne, fruitiness and aromatics are added to the depth of Pinot Noir and the richness of Chardonnay. It is very uncommon for you to see blanc de noirs Champagnes to be 100% Pinot Meunier because they are not able to hold up to long-distance travel like Pinot Noir-blended versions can.

Experts explain that if you like Pinot Meunier, you would probably also enjoy varieties like Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Sangiovese.

Food Pairing

If you’re looking to pair a glass of Pinot Meunier with a delicious meal, you can’t go wrong with roasted chicken, duck, or turkey - which makes it the perfect wine for traditional Thanksgiving meals. Grilled pork is also a good choice. If you are going more of a vegetarian route, it pairs well with mushroom-based recipes like a vegetarian mushroom stroganoff.

We are excited to announce that we will be adding a new sparkling wine to our John W. Simpson Sparkling Series this fall. It will be our 2023 Select Cuvée and will be made with 100% Pinot Meunier. As it gets closer to its release date, we will be sharing a little bit more information about the new bubbly and how you can get your hands on a bottle or two.


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