USA, Pacific Northwest
hosted by Dawn & Jay Mercer


We are wine lovers and wine consumers. We live about a 45 miles south of Seattle in Lakewood, Washington. Dawn is also into the growing, making, tasting, marketing and distribution of wine. She built a cellar for us back in '96. Yum !! Our cellar is managed with WBfW of course.

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If we can be of any assistance, please contact us via e-mail at for Jay & for Dawn.

Local Notes

  • Note #10, October 5, 2003 With the hot & dry summer and fall here in Washington State as well as the rest of the world, this year should become one of the better years world wide. Washington Wineries have almost tripled in numbers since Note #9. With the surge of the Internet in the last few years most Washington Wineries can be found online. Most can now ship directly to you. Check out "MikeL's WA Winery Guide" link at the bottom of the Notes for a list of some of our Wineries. There should be some great barrel tastings this coming spring. Now all we have to do is wait for the '03 releases. Yum!! Now if Dawn could just find us another Porto Rocha MILLENNIUM while we wait. ummmmmm! Jay & Dawn

  • Note # 9, January 1, 2000 Millennium Tasting. One of my secret passions is Port. Dawn acquired for me a Porto Rocha MILLENNIUM Extremely Old Tawny (#181/Oct. 1999). A Port chosen from exremely rare Colheitas produce before the turn of the century. This Port, from the late 1800's, was part of the stock of ANTONIO DA ROCHA LEAO,SUCRS. Manuel Barros purchased Rocha's old Port House. Porto Rocha is celebrating 150 years in 2000 since founding in 1850. The limited selection of only 240 bottles was prepared from the best of these well cared for extremely old and rare Reserve Colheitas in the style of the Belle Epoque. It was the most memorable Port tasting experience to date. It was very complex, needless to say. Pared with cigars, chocolates, Stilton and nuts was heavenly. I was prone to audible responses with each sip. It was the darkest of browns in color I've ever seen. I could babble on forever about this one. Happy New Millennium from Dawn & Jay

  • Note #8, December 30, 1999 Dawn's Champagne picks for our New Years Eve were the best yet. Her favorite of the three was a 1990 Bollinger Grande Annee Brut. Mine was the 1969 Drappier Carte D'or Brut. It had such great fruity favors for a '69. By far the best visual presentation has to be that incredible bottle of Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Spéciale dressed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. The red lace-up bottle dressing has to be seen. LOL The bubbly inside was just as incredible. Happy New Year from Dawn & Jay.

  • Note # 7, November 21, 1998 The 1998 harvest in Oregon was a solid one, according to Joe Dobbs, vice-president of Willamette Valley Winery in Turner, Oregon. The tonnage was down, but the quality is exceptional. The Pinot Noirs and the Rieslings will be standouts. The '98 harvest is over, the wines have completed fermentation and are now aging in oak barrels.

    This year's Thanksgiving selection from the Willamette Valley Winery is the 1995 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir. Joe describes the wine as an explosive fruit ball of strawberry, raspberries, and cracked pepper, finishing with soft, sweet tannins.

    Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Joe :-)

    Cheers! Dawn

  • Note #6, October 30, 1998 Washington's newest Master of Wine.

    I am a very lucky wine steward and had the privilege of interviewing Washington's newest Master of Wine, Bob Betz. Bob is the vice president of research and education at Stimson Lane, parent company of Chateau Ste. Michelle.

    According to Chateau Ste. Michelle's web site, "The Institute of Masters of Wine exists to promote the highest level of educational achievement for the wine industry, culminating in an educational achievement for the wine industry, the Master of Wine, often referred to in its abbreviated form of MW. To sit for the exam, candidates must have at least 5 years wine industry experience and pass a qualifying exam. The Master of Wine exam is divided into two parts, theory and practical, dealing with the analysis and assessment of wine. Candidates must also submit a dissertation on a specific grape growing or winemaking issue. Since the program was first established, more than 1,900 candidates have taken the exam, but only 13% have passed." David Lake of Columbia Winery is our state's other Master of Wine.

    Bob describes Washington's 1998-grape harvest as "a picture perfect vintage." The winter was mild with no freeze damage to the vines. The spring started off cool and wet, giving way to a warm and sunny summer. During the critical final month of ripening, temperatures cooled down to allow the grapes to ripen slowly, thus developing more flavor and character.

    Bob also described the general characteristics of the main four Chateau Ste. Michelle vineyards.

    They are:

    Cold Creek and Indian Wells- Both vineyards are located in a basin, protecting the vineyards from the cooling influence of the Columbia River during the growing season. These are the warmest of the CSM vineyards, yielding smaller grape clusters along with smaller berries. This concentrates the wine, with the reds typically being quite pungent with blackberry and black cherry flavors. The chardonnay from these vineyards usually features tropical overtones. The '98 harvest is complete at the Cold Creek vineyard.

    Horse Heaven- Situated next to the Columbia River, this is CSM's coolest vineyard. These wines are less tannic and structured than the Cold Creek and Indian Wells. Horse Heaven red wines are known for their length of flavor and richness.

    Canoe Ridge- Located 10 miles away from the Horse Heaven vineyard, the Canoe Ridge vineyard sits above the Columbia River, with steep south facing slopes. The chardonnay is typically crisp and fresh, with flavors of citrus, apple, and pear, yet not as tropical as the Cold Creek or the Indian Wells. The red wines from Canoe Ridge emphasize the fruit, and are lower in tannins than the other vineyards.

    Cheers! Dawn

  • Note #5, Feburary 8, 1998 I have been working long hours for the power company, so we haven't gotten much this winter. El Nino seems to be having it's way with the world.

    Till the next note, glasses up.

  • Note #4, December 5, 1997

    This has been a long year for us. Family events have filled all of our time.

    The French Nouveaus this year were very different from last year. Seemed more complex and less fruity. The Nouveau that caught my attention this year was Claar Cellars of Pasco, WA. '1997 Nouveau Cabernet Sauvignon'. It was very fresh, fruity and simple.

    We took lots of trips to the wineries this year. We found ourselves repeatedly returning to Mike Moore and Blackwood Canyon Vintners, Benton City, WA. Mike has a pre-WWII French style of making wine that is one of my favorites. His '1986 Pinnacle', "It is to kill for". Then there is his '1986 Double Nickel' and '1985 Late Bottled Penultimate'; I could go on forever.

    Most of the 'At the winery only' reserves have been a real taste treat this year. Washington wines are getting better ever year.

    Glad to be back online, till the next note.

  • Note #3, November 1996

    Beaujolais Nouveau 1996 tasting time is here again. As usual we looked for all the examples available in our area. We have a rating system. On a scale of '1' to '2', either you like it or you don't. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    The Barton & Guestier Beaujolais Nouveau 1996 came out on top this year with its fruity Gamay flavors. Following closely by George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 1996 with its tender and fruity qualities. The Jean-Marc Aujoux Beaujolais Nouveau 1996 placed with its fine nuances of strawberry and banana.

    The real taste treat this season was a presentation by Wine maker Steve (Iceman) Babbitt. Steve's ' Very Special Reserve Wine ', a 1994 Plum, was by far * The Taste Teat * We loved it's brilliant plum color, its elegant aromatic bouquet, its mild effervesce display and its tender fruity and fresh taste are just some of the delicious qualities of this primer wine. We Thank You Steve.

    Dawn is interning with Neal Delargy, Wine Steward for Freighthouse Cellars and is forth coming with some interesting Wines Notes for us.

    Thoroughly Nouveau-ed, till the next Note.

  • Note #2, July 1996

    The recent Central Washington State Fair Wine judging had a wide selection of local wines. As usual the weather was spectacular.

    Silver medals were awarded to two rose wines. The Kiona 1993 Vintage Rose, a wine made mostly from Lemberger. Kiona had been making this wine out of Merlot for most of the decade, but when interest in and the price of Merlot shot up, the winery went to the Lemberger. The second was the 1994 Hyatt Vineyards Black Muscat Rose. A good rose offers the fresh fruit of the grapes, low tannins and a little of the sweetness to balance the natural grape acidity. Also winning silvers were 1994 Portteus Zinfandel, Thurston Wolfe Grenache and 1993 Columbia Syrah.

    Bronze medals were awarded to Tucker Cellars: 1994 Summer Red and 1994 Indian Summer, the 1995 Badger Mountain Winery, Mountain Blush and Columbia Cabernet Franc.

    I know most of these wines are very difficult to find outside of Washington State. Washington only exports about 2% of their wine to Canada and the UK, with Canada getting most of it. I have found a couple of vendors that have a fair selection and can ship to states where it is legal and worldwide. If I can be of any help-locating vendors, contact me via E-mail. Last year I shipped Ken Tripp {WBfW Australia} three bottles of selected Washington wines. The cost was around $90US for the shipment and Ken said they arrived in good condition. It only took three days arrive. I might add that, in wintertime, one must be careful of possible freezing in transit.

    Till the next note, keep those glasses half full.

  • The First Note, April 1995

    The Yakima Valley Wine Growers Association Spring Barrel Tasting event, occurring at the end of April, was a combination of warm sunny weather and great Pacific Northwest wines. Yakima River Winery hosted a 5-year vertical tasting of Cabernet Sauvignons from 1991 up to 1995. It was very interesting and enlightening to experience how their wine matured. The 10th Anniversary of the Oakwood Cellars was also celebrated this year. Chateau Ste. Michelle also released their 'Artist Edition' selection.

    It was the First Annual Washington Asparagus Festival at Washington Hills. Thanks to Les we took 15 kilos of fresh asparagus back to the coast with us. The 'Best Part of All' was to escape the spring rain of the coast and share a bit of the grape with old friends {a.k.a. Linda & Ed Soto, Eva & Les Kaiser} in the warm sunshine of their Yakima Valley.

    Pacific Northwest Links

  • Washington map
  • MikeL's WA Winery Guide
  • Oregon Wine Tour