Wautoma Wines flow from the partnership between a vineyard manager and a winemaker, each devoted to showcasing the best of Washington Wine Country. Two of Washington wine country’s much-acclaimed vineyards provide the grapes from which Wautoma Wines are created.
Tom Merkle – vineyard owner and manager – and Jessica Munnell – wine maker – met in the middle of Columbia Valley’s Wautoma Springs vineyard in January 2000. Working together, they became friends. Which would later develop into a business partnership.
In 2003, Jessica left viticulture for winemaking, beginning with an internship in Australia. She later returned to the states for an enology position with Snoqualmie Winery. In 2005, she began work at Canoe Ridge and worked her way up to an Assistant Winemaker position with Chateau Ste. Michelle.
After a few years away from full-time wine industry involvement to begin raising a family, Jessica approached Tom Merkle about working together to create a wine that featured his grapes. A partnership was formed in 2008 that became Wautoma Wines – made of the best Cabernet Sauvignon from Wautoma Springs and Malbec from Wahluke Slope’s Stone Tree Vineyard.
In addition to her work with Wautoma Springs, Jessica is the head Winemaker for Mercer Estates.
Tom Merkle is a second-generation grape grower. In 1999, he planted the first grapes at his own Wautoma Springs vineyard. That has since developed into a fifty-acre, exclusively Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard supplying fruit to some of the best-known, most-respected wineries in Washington.
In addition to Wautoma Springs, Tom manages several other top-rank vineyards on the Wahluke Slope.
Great Northwest Wine, 2013
Seattle Times, 2013