The 2016 Malbec has Arrived…

You’ve been toughing it out these past six months in quarantine or perhaps out on the front lines, settling into a routine, and for many of you, homeschooling is just around the corner. Whew. We’re here for you and will try to at least provide some moral support. That’s why we are so happy to announce the release of our very popular and very limited Baer Malbec. The 2016 Baer Malbec is an interesting wine that seasoned enophiles and novices alike enjoy. Let’s talk about Malbec as a varietal, as well as how it came to be one of our most sought-after wines.

A little history of Malbec…

Malbec is a thick-skinned grape that hails from France. It became a blending grape as one of five of Bordeaux’s top wine grapes. However, despite its thick skin, Malbec has a poor resistance to weather and pests. Therefore, Malbec never made it as a top variety in The Republic. Many people think of Argentina when they think of Malbec. That’s because Malbec found a new home in which to thrive back in the early 1800s in Mendoza, Argentina when the mayor ordered a French botanist to plant it. Because of Argentina’s climate and elevation, over 75% of today’s Malbec is planted in Argentina and the remainder spans across six other countries as it continues to grow more and more popular, especially here in Washington state.

The Baer Malbec Story…

The Baer Malbec was first crafted in 2013 when doing duty as a blend component for our flagship wine, Ursa. The fruit was intended to remain just as part of Baer’s blends. However, Nich Hanson, the Cellarmaster at the time, noticed that every time he opened the Malbec barrels for their topping up, he was hit with intense aromas of blackberry pie and cracked peppercorns. He knew the 2013 Malbec was a special wine that should stand on its own. He then proposed that it be bottled separately. The Baer team agreed and the Baer Malbec was born.

2016 Malbec…

Our 2016 Malbec was just released and is an extremely limited-production wine that we’re so proud to share with you all.  James Suckling awarded this wine 92 points and Owen Bargreen gave it 93, so you know it lives up to the hype. Blended with a bit of Syrah, the 2016 Malbec is concentrated and expressive. With aromas and flavors of blackberry, blueberry, mocha, and black licorice, it’s ripe and generous in the mouth with a long and lifted finish. Pair with anything from dark poultry and lean meats to dishes with spicy and earthy flavors. Consulting Winemaker, Erica Orr said, “It’s fun to make small lots like the Malbec in contrast to the larger volume Baer blends. The Malbec character is more upfront, bold, and expressive when compared to the flagship Ursa or a more serious Cabernet Sauvignon like the Arctos.”

If you’re ready to taste the 2016 Malbec for yourself, we’re currently offering a three-pack for just $99 and overnight shipping for the price of regular ground shipping (but only until September 8th). Just add the three-pack to your cart, choose regular ground shipping, and enter code OVERNIGHT at checkout. Enjoy!

Winemaker Spotlight: Erica Orr

Erica Orr has been with us for 13 years, joining us following our founding winemaker Lance Baer’s passing. She was tasked with assisting us in carrying on Lance’s legacy through Baer wines. Erica has done an impeccable job of taking the reins in the vineyards and production facilities. In this month’s blog, we asked her to share a bit about her day-to-day and her journey to Woodinville. Learn more about Erica and how she came to be one of the best winemakers in the state of Washington!

Where are you from and where did you attend school?

I’m from California’s San Francisco Bay Area and have a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in enology from UC Davis.

What originally got you interested in winemaking?

I am interested in science, specifically chemistry and biology, but I also love cooking, restaurants, and traveling. Back in 1998, I was living in San Francisco and working in the Blackburn Lab at UCSF. While out at a bar, my friend and I randomly sat next to the winemaker, Aaron Pott. He told us all about his life working at wineries in Bordeaux and the Napa Valley. He said he had gone through the wine program at UC Davis and told me to work at a winery before applying to the UC Davis enology program. That was super valuable advice. I took all my vacation from my job at the lab to work a couple of weeks of harvest with Cathy Corison in the Napa Valley. That was my first harvest, 1998.

How long have you been with Baer Winery and what’s your favorite part about working there?

The Baer family hired me to keep the label going after Lance Baer passed away in 2007. So, 2019 was my 13th harvest at Baer. I feel like my role is clearly defined. My job is to continue to craft the Baer wines in the style that Lance originated. That includes responding to what the growing season gives us and, at the same time, striving to make the wines better every vintage. I like having those parameters spelled out.

Describe Baer wines in three words.

Honoring Lance Baer.

What is your winemaking philosophy?

I feel like I know what is delicious; I try and really pay attention when I am tasting something delicious. I’m searching for the most delicious wine on the table during my blending sessions.

What are some of the challenges for Washington winemakers right now?

Columbia Valley vineyards that were planted in the 2000s are maturing into their sweet spot. I feel like technically the Washington winemaking community is becoming more knowledgeable and capable each vintage. The grapes are improving and the winemaking is improving so, naturally, the quality of wine we are producing is increasing, which is great! The challenge is that there are more brands out in the market now so the competition is fierce. The world of wine criticism is different from 20 years ago, nice scores certainly help but they don’t make or break a brand in the way that scores used to. I feel like the biggest challenge is staying relevant while staying true to the style Lance Baer established.

Is there a Baer wine you’re most proud of? If so, what is it and why? 

I think the 2012 Ursa was really stunning and it felt great that several critics recognized this as well. The new 2016 Star Merlot that we just released is 100% Merlot for the first time ever for the winery (typically there is some Cab Franc and sometimes Cab Sauv blended in). I am learning how to craft Merlot in a way where I feel it is a complete wine, delicious on its own. It’s a lot of learning by doing.

There you have it – a look behind the scenes of Baer Winery with the person at the helm of creating Baer wines. Do you have more questions for Erica? Pay us a visit in the near future and you may be lucky enough to catch Erica in her lab, or if you’re a club member you will find her at the next club event to talk about all things wine and food!

Harvest at Baer Winery

From planting to growing to pruning to harvesting, making high-quality Washington wine is a labor of love that culminates in the fall. We’re in the thick of it here at Baer Winery and are looking forward to sharing our 2019 vintage with you in the years to come.

Stillwater Creek Vineyard


A Baer Winery harvest starts in the Columbia Valley at Stillwater Creek Vineyard, a 235-acre site on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills. This vineyard was planted in 2000 on a steep, south-facing slope with one of the most diverse clone selections in Washington State. Stillwater Creek’s fractured rock and extreme southern exposure are ideal for reds, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The Chardonnay we harvest for our Shard is planted on a mixture of fractured rock and areas of fine, sandy loam. Overall, the vineyard is a mix of 80% red grapes and 20% white grapes. This year, we took our initial trip to Stillwater Creek Vineyard at the end of August and brought in our first pick to Woodinville in early September.

Production in Woodinville at Baer Winery


We’re lucky here in Woodinville to have the office of our winemaker, Erica Orr, right next door, as well as a full production and storage facility in our backyard. And when we say backyard, we mean directly connected to our tasting room. This allows us to share our process with visitors, as well as keep it all close to home. Everything from crush and destemming to pump-overs and barrelling down is led by Erica at Baer Winery. Right now, in October, reds are starting to come in and the fun has just begun! So far, the 2019 harvest has been plentiful and we are optimistic about this vintage. We might even get creative with this fruit, so stay tuned for some exciting future releases.

Update from Winemaker Erica Orr


Erica Orr is our consulting winemaker who takes the lead on choosing when to pick the fruit. Everything matters from how early in the harvest season the fruit is picked to the time of day it’s taken off the vine. Erica strives to make those decisions based on her final vision for what she wants Baer wines to smell and taste like while also respecting the quality of the fruit.

“At this point in the season, we have all the Chardonnay for Shard picked and happily fermenting in the drum,” says Orr. “We have also picked all of our Merlot with two of the lots already pressed off and in barrels about to be inoculated for malolactic fermentation next week.” This year, Orr is very content with the Merlot. “The third Merlot lot is still fermenting on skins right now. So far, I am happy with both the flavors and the juice chemistry, which doesn’t happen every year.” 


We were the first to pick Merlot out of Stillwater Creek Vineyard this year. We can’t wait to see what this means for the 2019 vintage, and are excited about the wines that will be produced from this beautiful fruit! Our Malbec and the first of the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignons have been destemmed and we are officially at the halfway point in the heart of October. We still have more Cabernet Sauvignon and the fan-favorite Cabernet Franc hanging on the vine and are looking forward to picking those when they are ready later this month. 

There’s still time to see the Baer Winery production team in action! Visit us on Saturdays or Sundays throughout harvest and you might catch a glimpse of what goes into making your Baer favorites. Cheers to 2019 wines!