Waterbrook Merlot 2012
In the early 1980s, a handful of visionaries set out to realize the potential of Walla Walla as a winemaking force. Waterbrook founders set up the town’s fourth bonded winery in 1984, and in the process fostered a culture of camaraderie among fellow Walla Walla winemakers, growers and friends.
Today you’ll find a town whose rich history is matched only by its soaring success in wine. The charming town of Walla Walla has flourished, and so has Waterbrook. With a 2008-built, state-of-the-art winery, visitor center and a nearby estate vineyard, Waterbrook has created a destination for wine lovers and simultaneously helped put Walla Walla wine on the world’s stage.
Never straying from its principles to create fruit-forward, varietally correct wines, Waterbrook marked 30 years of winemaking in 2014. In that time it has earned more than 100 combined Best Buys and 90+ point scores.
Waterbrook is recognized for producing wines that exemplify our outstanding vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley and the Columbia Valley. From vineyard to bottle, every detail of production is carried out by a committed team led by winemaker John Freeman. Whether touring Washington Wine Country or opening a bottle of Waterbrook wine at home, we look forward to you experiencing “what Washington tastes like.”
A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!
Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.