In 2008 Jessica approached Tom Merkle about working together to create a wine that featured his grapes. A partnership was formed that became Wautoma Wines – made of the best Cabernet Sauvignon from Wautoma Springs and Malbec from Wahluke Slope’s Stone Tree Vineyard.
Eight years later Rachel Mercer joined the duo and the three set their sights on increasing production and opening a Tasting Room. In December 2019, Wautoma Springs Tasting Room in Prosser, WA, opened. Since then the team has grown to include Shae Jenkins as Wine Club Manager and a small, but mighty team of wonderful tasting room staff.
The epitome of a boutique winery, producing extremely small-lot, hand-crafted wines from people who know the business inside and out. This isn't a venture capitalist's or a lawyer's winery - not that there's anything wrong with that. We know the soil. We know the vines. And we know how to make good wine. Our story is in every bottle.
Meet The Team
In 2003, Jessica left viticulture for winemaking, beginning with an internship in Australia. Returning to the states she worked at Snoqualmie, Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge, Mercer Wine Estates and Vintage Wine Estates. Her wines have won numerous awards, internationally, nationally and regionally.
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.
A second-generation wine professional, Rachel's parents planted the first grape vines in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Rachel's been in the industry virtually her entire life, managing tasting rooms since 2005 and cooking for people (for money) since 2001.
Wine Club Manager
A native to the Yakima Valley, Shae's been working in the wine industry since 2015, and has been with Wautoma Springs since 2020. Shae holds a WSET Lvl 2 Award in Wine and Spirits.