A Shining “Star” Merlot Made For A Cab Drinker!

The Story Of Baer Winery

Winemaker Lance Baer founded Baer Winery in 2000 with a single passion—to bring something unique to Woodinville. After years of working with some of the most prestigious wineries in the area, Lance wanted to take his winemaking skills in his own direction. Lance succeeded in handcrafting blends distinctly his own, and in April 2003 the first vintage of the winery’s signature blend, Ursa, was released. Ursa, a feminine expression of red wine, predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Franc, was soon followed by Arctos, a bolder Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend.

Baer Lance

As operations moved from an apartment in Redmond to a converted property on six rural acres in Woodinville, the winery was able to grow in production. Lance’s passion went from just 200 cases in 2003 to over 3,000 cases now. In late 2007, Baer Winery moved into the popular warehouse wine complex near downtown Woodinville – a move which has allowed them to grow to producing approximately 3,500 cases per year, with a view to continuing to increase to 5,000.


Lance Baer, passed away in May of 2007, at the age of 39. But the Baer family, Lisa and Les( Les Now Retired For Income Tax Purposes), with the expertise of consulting winemaker Erica Orr, are continuing to produce the wines that Lance was devoted to creating, as well as continuing to evolve and add new blends to the winery’s line-up.

IMO Women Make Better Bosses And Wine

On the left is Baer Winery Owner, Lisa Baer and on the right is brilliant winemaker Erica Orr.

Baer Erica

Erica Orr has worked in the wine industry since 1998. Her first harvest was with Cathy Corison in the Napa Valley. That experience prompted Erica to enroll in the enology master’s degree program at UC Davis where she researched the indigenous yeast microflora in native chardonnay barrel fermentations. She completed her master’s degree in 2003.
In addition to her master’s degree from UC Davis, Erica’s scientific training includes a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from UC Berkeley and three years of research experience as a biochemistry lab technician for 2009 Nobel Laureate Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn at UC San Francisco.

As a San Francisco Bay Area native, she is passionate about food and wine, and dedicated to quality-oriented, thoughtful winemaking.

2014 Baer Family “Star” Merlot

Baer Front

Baer Rear

This Claret style Merlot is no wimp. The grapes are sourced from a Single Vineyard site in Columbia Valley known as the Stillwater Creek Vineyard.

Baer Vineyard Sillwater

As you can see this vineyard is located at high altitude and with lots of drainage. With Southern exposure the grapes get tons of sunshine which picked at peak ripeness produces an ABV of 14.6%. It is about 80% Merlot and the balance being Cabernet Franc. What  I suppose they shoot for is a Right Bank Bordeaux style with a modern fruit profile. The wine ages for 22 months in 100% French Oak (Thank God) and about 23% of the barrels are new. They produced only about 530 cases that vintage and I couldn’t wait to open, aerate and review!

My Review

Baer Glass Side

Baer Glass Bottle

The wine needed a solid hour of aeration to show it’s nuances. In the glass a star bright darker than ruby red color with some fading out towards the edges due to it being 5 years old. The nose presented slightly smoky bing cherry, some floral notes, red fruits, and hints of roasted coffee bean and spice. On the palate this is what many and myself is full bodied and a plush style wine from front to back. The presence of oak is there but I totally disagree with Sean Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast who says the oak treatment almost mutes the fruit. The wine is in perfect balance. Swish it around and you will get loads of bing cherry, black raspberry, plum sneaking it’s head through, and the generous use of Cab Franc gives you those green herbs, acidity and sweet tobacco leaf with kind of a stony sweet tannin finish that lasts for a  long time. This is the style for the Merlot Haters that a Cab drinker would love. My score is in line with Stephen Tanzer, Wine Spectator etc with a solid 91 points out of 100.

My Summary

The winery advertises this for $35 and I have found this 2014 for $40. In comparison to what Napa would cost or Bordeaux it is a steal. At what I was able to get it at via internet at $19 free shipping on 4 bottles it more than delivered. At $35 it still shows decent QPR. Kudos for a San Francisco native like Erica Orr and working in Napa Valley that this talented winemaker didn’t produce an over oaked sugar bomb. The wine is perfectly in balance and shows the terroir of the vineyard site and it clearly represents Washington State.I drank it with Eggplant Parmigiana and it was spot on!  I can see why they call it “STAR” . Check around you might find some 2014 left or if not the winery is offering the 2016 Vintage from a very warm year.

Grape-fully yours, Larry

A Toast To Lance..Cheers!!

Baer Erica and Lisa


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