Food & Drink

Great Northwest Wine: Mercer wines live up to pedigree

One of Washington's most revered farming families is making its mark in the wine industry.

The Mercers arrived in the Yakima Valley in the 1880s and have been working the soil ever since. The Mercer family’s history in the wine industry goes back to 1972, when Don Mercer planted the first wine grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills south of the Yakima Valley. He planted cabernet sauvignon and called the site Mercer Ranch Vineyards.

In 1996, that vineyard was purchased by a consortium of winemakers and a grape grower named Paul Champoux; today Champoux Vineyards is one of the state’s revered plantings.

Meanwhile, the Mercers continued to build their farming operation with several crops, including wine grapes. In 2006, they launched Mercer Estates with longtime family friend Mike Hogue, who had sold his winery – Hogue Cellars – five years earlier. The winery and tasting room were built in Prosser.

Today, the Mercer family, led by brothers Rob and Will, owns 100 percent of the winery. In 2012, former Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker Jessica Munnell took over winemaking at Mercer and is crafting stellar wines. She makes two tiers: Mercer Estates and the value-priced Mercer Canyons.

Here are a few of the Mercer wines we’ve tasted recently. Ask for them at your favorite wine shop or contact the winery directly: