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Desert Wind Winery


Nestled in the Wahluke Slope’s geographically-isolated appellation in eastern Washington, Desert Wind Winery offers a beautiful Southwest-inspired setting and a unique collection of terroir-driven, small-lot wines.

Desert Wind Winery dates back to 1992 when the Fries family started planting grapevines on a 540-acre parcel of land on eastern Washington’s Wahluke Slope, an area particularly suited to growing warmer climate varietals. This estate vineyard is now the backbone of the Desert Wind Winery brand, offering a range of varietals including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Tempranillo. It is the winery’s goal to showcase the remarkable qualities of this unique winegrowing region through terroir-driven wines and by focusing on sustainably-minded growing practices, helping ensure the estate can produce high-quality fruit for years to come.

In 2002, the Fries family built the Desert Wind Winery and production facility in Prosser, Washington, which is an impressive destination to say the least. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Yakima River, its Southwest-inspired structure houses an exquisite tasting room, a full-service farm-to-table restaurant, private event space, inn, and spa. It is certainly a picturesque, one-of-a-kind wine-country destination that visitors and guests to the area do not want to miss.

The Fries family saw great success at Desert Wind Winery for several years, but ultimately decided to leave the wine industry in 2020. They sold the winery and estate vineyard to a pair of acclaimed Colombia Valley grower/vintners - Josh Lawrence, Tom Merkle, and their families - who were excited by the opportunity and future possibilities that lay ahead with Desert Wind.

Josh Lawrence and his wife, Lisa, own Gard Vintners and operate three tasting rooms while Tom Merkle and his wife, Tami, are partners with acclaimed winemaker Jessica Munnell in Wautoma Springs Winery. The Merkles also manage several other highly regarded vineyards on the Wahluke Slope. By joining together, the Lawrence and Merkle families will continue to build on the long tradition of producing premium quality wines and offering superior hospitality at Desert Wind Winery.

The families have also joined with Matias Kusulas, a Chilean-born winemaker and viticulturist with extensive experience from around the world (Chile, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Africa). Matias works closely with the Lawrence and Merkle families to be stewards of the land, caring for their Desert Wind estate’s 20+-year-old vines, and producing high-quality fruit that in turn become distinctive, beautiful wines with a true sense of place. We are happy to share this passionate, family-owned Washington winery with our Gold Medal Wine Club members. Enjoy!

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