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Our Story

Who We Are

Desert Wind is an immersive wine, food, and entertainment destination in the heart of Washington Wine Country, dedicated to producing world-class wines that celebrate our estate vineyards in the Wahluke Slope AVA. Our southwest-inspired estate is perched on a bluff overlooking the Yakima River in Prosser, Washington, and boasts a large tasting room and overnight accommodations. We currently share our wines with our wine club, in our tasting room, and in select distribution in the Northwest and beyond.


The Lawrence Family

Josh and Lisa Lawrence come from a family farming legacy of over a half century. The couple began planting vineyards in what is now the Royal Slope AVA of Washington in 2003. The family has expanded its holdings, in partnership with the Merkle family, to now include Desert Wind Winery & Vineyard, as well as Conner Lee Vineyard in the Columbia Valley. The Lawrences also own Gård Vintners, an estate winery founded in 2006, which has locations across Washington in Walla Walla, Woodinville, Ellensburg and Royal City. Gård shares winemaker/viticulturist Matías Kúsulas in common with Desert Wind. Josh oversees operations at their estate Lawrence Vineyards and their other crops, mostly apple and cherry orchards, as well as other crops and agricultural ventures. Lisa oversees sales and marketing operations at the wineries. Together they raise three children at their home in Royal City, Washington.

The Merkle Family

Tom Merkle is a second-generation grape grower, and began planting his first wine grapes at his own Wautoma Springs Vineyard in 1999. It has since developed into a 50-acre vineyard with exclusively Cabernet Sauvignon, and supplies fruit to some of the most respected wineries in Washington. In 2008, Tom partnered with winemaker Jessica Munnell to create Wautoma Springs, a boutique winery showcasing the namesake’s unique vineyard. Tom also manages several other highly regarded vineyards on the Wahluke Slope. He joined with Josh Lawrence in 2019 to purchase the iconic Conner Lee Vineyard in the Columbia Valley. In 2020 the partners purchased Desert Wind Vineyard, followed by Desert Wind Winery in 2021.  Tom and his wife Tami raise their family in Moses Lake, Washington.

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In 1992, the Fries family began planting Desert Wind Vineyard on a 540-acre parcel of land on eastern Washington’s Wahluke Slope, an area particularly suited to growing warmer climate varieties. This estate vineyard is now the backbone of the Desert Wind brand and is home to Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Tempranillo.


In 2001, the Fries family built Desert Wind Winery and production facility in Prosser, Washington, which is a destination unto itself. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Yakima River, its Southwest-inspired exterior houses a tasting room, restaurant, inn and event space. 


In 2020, the Lawrence and Merkle families purchased Desert Wind Vineyard and in 2021 they also acquired Desert Wind Winery. Today, the families embrace estate winemaking as the foundation for the great wines of Desert Wind and invite guests near and far to enjoy the warmth of our southwest-inspired tasting room and inn.

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