Established in 2005
Spice Cabinet Vineyard
Spice Cabinet Vineyard, a unique 18-acre site adjacent to the Columbia River on the Mercer family farm. A deep sandy soil that has blown in over the rock bluffs above and a steep south east aspect creates site characteristics that are similar to areas in the Rhone. The early morning sun warms the site and its proximity to the river ensure a constant movement of airflow which provides the advantage of extra frost free days and lower mildew pressure. The site is planted to Grenache, Syrah, Petit Syrah, Mouvedre, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. It is truly our winery’s spice cabinet.
Soil Series: Quincy; generally associated with excessively drained, coarse textured soils on dune-like terraces. The parent material was windblown sand derived from granite, basalt and quartzite.
Dead Canyon Vineyard
Significance of name: Dead Canyon is a canyon in the Horse Heaven Hills and is adjacent to this vineyard.
The Dead Canyon Vineyard is located on the sloped hills of Dead Canyon in the Horse Heaven Appellation of Washington State. The 325 acre vineyard has 27 unique blocks that have been developed over 4 phases beginning in 2006. The site has two distinct aspects due to the fact that it is planted on both canyon edges and thus has both a north and south face, both with approximately 10% slope. Planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon, the site, at elevation (780′) has great air drainage, well-drained cobbly silt loam soils and offers many different blending opportunities due to the variation in its slopes. The vineyard lies about 3 miles south of the original Mercer family farmstead.
The first vintage was in 2008 from phase I grapes approximately 60 acres. Phase II was planted in 2007 and represents the remaining 60 acres of the original center pivot site. This original 120 acre site is where Mercer Estate Winery fruit is sourced. Phase III was planted in 2009 and represents 71 acres (7 blocks of various sizes) on sloped sites located between existing center pivots around the canyon. We have coded those blocks with letters rather than the traditional numbers. Phase IV was planted in 2010 and represents 9 blocks totaling 140 acres – the blocks straddle both north and south facing slopes of Dead Canyon.
• Size: 113 acres, 11 blocks
• Aspect: North and South row orientation
• Location: Alderdale Region approximately 50 miles SW of Prosser
• Soil: sandy loam, uniform across site
• Varieties Planted: 3 varieties – CS 67%, MR 29%, SY 4%
• Year Planted/Expanded: 2006 and 2007
• Microclimate: Warm – Long Term Average GDD = 3054
• Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills (HHH)
• Unique Aspects: HHH Appellation, Estate Vineyard, warmer, uniform soils, best for reds.
• Average Yield: All varieties 4-4.5T/A.
• Trellising: Vertical Shoot Positioned with 3 fixed canopy wires.
Soil Series: The North Side: #377 Lickskillet; generally associated with steep canyon lands. The parent material is a cobbly silt loam that formed under bunch grasses in a mixture of wind laid deposits and basalt residuum. It is underlain by basalt bedrock with 2 to 15 percent slope.
Soil Series: #533 Sagehill: generally associated with basins, a fine sandy loam with 5 to 10 percent slopes. The parent material is formed from lacustrine sediments with a mantle of loess.
The South Side: #537 Sagehill, generally associated with terraces, a deep fine sandy loam with 10 to 15 percent slopes. The parent material is formed from lacustrine sediments with a mantle of loess.
Farming Practices: All vine rows are oriented generally from north to south, drip irrigated, spur pruned and cordon trained to a “Vertically Shoot Positioned” trellis with 3 fixed canopy wires. The vines for all blocks are planted nine feet between rows. Spacing between vines are seven feet. The vines are managed for fruit production in year 3. This allows for optimum vine health, improved vine to vine uniformity, enhances consistent yields earlier and reduces the risk for poor stand and long term retraining efforts. The vines are trained to a modified sprawl system.
Vineyard management of all blocks is organized. Strategies for integrated pest management control and sustainability practices are priorities. Vines are cordon suckered at about 3-6 inches of growth. Cordon suckering is the early removal of unnecessary non-count shoots. Selective leaf removal on the east side of canopy is standard protocol and if needed, a second leaf removal pass to fine tune canopies can be accomplished. Crop estimations are made in late July when berries are pea size or larger. Cluster thinning recommendations are made and target yield adjustments are accomplished by veraison. Follow up estimates are made on blocks that appear over cropped and a second thinning pass can be accomplished.
Once berry color reaches 80% visible, a green color thinning pass (removal of secondary fruit or late maturing fruit) is accomplished. Vines are closely inspected for insect and disease incidence, monitored and controlled accordingly. All vines are machine harvested unless special requests are made.
Big Teepee Vineyard
Big Teepee Vineyard, a small 5-acre site adjacent to the Mercer family farm office (thus the name), is a bit of an enigma with regards to our knowledge of terroir. First planted primarily as a landscape improvement, the vineyard consistently produces a Cabernet of extremely deep color with a very healthy dose of rich tannins. It is located at a lower elevation (640′), has no slope and is in a soil with higher clay content. Not ideal terroir in many ways but the soil composition is such that it really stands out as a unique and interesting Cabernet that we enjoy as a stand-alone or as a part of our blending options.
Soil Series: #274 Prosser: generally associated with basins, a silt loam with 2 to 5 percent slope, this soil was formed under bunch grasses and sagebrush in silty alluvium and wind-deposited material overlying basalt bedrock.
Zephyr Ridge Vineyard
Significance of name: Zephyr Ridge Vineyard is located on a beautiful ridge named “Zephyr Ridge” overlooking the Horse Heaven Hills and the Columbia River near Paterson WA. The vineyard is part of the Horse Heaven Appellation of Washington State. The 215 acre vineyard has 35 unique blocks that were planted in 1997, 1998 and 1999. The vineyard has nearly 200 feet difference in elevation between blocks and up to 80 feet difference within blocks.
Zephyr Ridge is planted to Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Syrah, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Viognier, Lemberger.
• Size: 215 acres, 35 blocks,
• Aspect: Includes blocks with South, SE, SW and West row orientations
• Location: 2 miles East Paterson WA.
• Elevation: 570 -740 feet
• Soil: shallow to deep, very sandy wind blown soil with some rock.
• Varieties planted: CH, MR, VG, SN, ZN, PS, CS and SY
• Years planted: 1997, 1998 and 1999.
• Microclimate: Warm (2982 Heat Units)
• Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills (HHH)
• Unique aspects of vineyard: Estate Vineyard, warm site, river affect, slope affect
• Average yield: All varieties 3.5-5 Tons per acre.
• Trellising: Vertical Shoot Position trellis utilizing both fixed and moveable wires.
• Spacing: 9′ between rows and 6′ between plants for a total of 807 plants per acre.
Farming practices: Red varieties are planted mainly on a south to SW exposure to collect more afternoon heat. The white varieties are planted mainly to blocks on a North to NW exposure which typically are cooler sites and allow for a bit more acid retention in berries. The vines are mechanically pre-pruned in December/January followed up by detailed hand pruning in February/March. The vines are spur pruned and cordon trained to a “Vertically Shoot Positioned” trellis. The vines are trained to a modified sprawl system. Vines are closely inspected for weed, insect and disease pressures, monitored and controlled accordingly. Strategies for integrated pest management and sustainability practices are priorities (i.e., composts, irrigation probe water management, cover crops, drip irrigation and insect and disease monitoring). Vines are cordon suckered at about 3-6 inches of growth. Selective leaf removal on the east side of canopy is standard protocol in June and if needed, a second leaf removal pass to fine tune canopies can be accomplished. Crop estimations are made in late July when berries are pea size or larger. Cluster thinning recommendations are made and target yield adjustments are accomplished prior to veraison. Follow up estimates are made on blocks that appear over cropped and a second thinning pass can be accomplished. Once berry color (veraison) reaches 80% visible, a green color thinning pass (removal of secondary fruit or late maturing fruit) is accomplished. The majority of the blocks are mechanically harvested.