Precept Wine, which isn’t shy about creating unusual projects, plans next month to release a Walla Walla Valley vineyard-designated 2012 Merlot under the Waterbrook label.
Yes, a Merlot from last year’s vintage.
Waterbrook Winery 2012 Amber Hills Vineyard Merlot
Heidi Witherspoon, communications director for Seattle-based Precept, said it will be a 250-case lot from first-press juice and no barrel aging off Amber Hills Vineyard. The youthful Merlot will retail for about $20 per bottle, Witherspoon said.
The 85-acre site among the rolling wheat fields on Cockrum Road is owned by the Derby family, which partners with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates for their Spring Valley Vineyard estate wines.
But now, Precept has a long-term lease with the Derbys for Amber Hills, Witherspoon said. It first planted in 2009 adjacent to Spring Valley Vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The 2012 harvest was Precepts’ first harvest off Amber Hills, and David Minick — one of Washington’s most experienced viticulturalists — will take a role in developing the site for Waterbrook winemaker John Freeman.
The vineyard features silt loam soil that has a depth of 300 feet is being groomed for Waterbrook’s Icon tier, reserve and special programs. It gives Precept nearly 3,800 acres of vines in seven American Viticulture Areas spread out through Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Hal Landvoigt, director of winemaking for Precept, has turned the Chocolate Shop program into a Walla Walla success story. Last fall, he followed that up with his Almond Roca Cream for Brown & Haley in Tacoma.