Stimulating the Taste Buds


(click picture for tour)

Mercer House Estate Vineyards — Taste and Sensory Evaluation

               This was my first experience of wine tasting. I am very thankful to Melony Stuckey for inviting me. I’m also grateful for the warm welcome extended by Shannon and Kim Mercer for allowing me to visit and share in the tasting opportunity.

We entered into a large portrait studio, restructured into a comfortable wine tasting room with tables set up with plenty of munchies. Cheese (from a local goat farmer) and crackers, veggies and Kim special blend of Saba. Let me tell you about the Saba, a gourmet condiment sauce made out of muscadine grapes, the first of its kind.

Kim says, “Most people like it on meats and salads, but Shannon likes his on ice cream.”

I had some on a cracker, a piece of crusty bread, and some different vegetables. So tasty and would be outstanding on any kind of meat. I wouldn’t recommend it on ice cream. (I meant to buy some before I left, but I guess after all the wine, my mind was in a different place). I’ll definitely be back.

We started with a Hattie 2011 Vintage. Hattie is named after a Greyhound Shannon had. This was a very full body red wine with good taste. I gave it an 8.

“Sweet wine and chocolate go good together,” says Shannon. “Chocolate comes from a tree and therefore it’s a vegetable.”

The second wine we tasted was another version of Hattie 2013 Vintage. Now this one was quite a bit different than the previous. We all sipped and puckered our lips up. I suggested it may be good on collards, or perhaps cucumbers.

The labels for the wine must go through an approval process before they can be used. Shannon and Kim are still waiting for the red tape process before their license to sell wine is approved. Most of the wine labels were created by artist, Melony Stuckey. She has a great talent at designing images that stimulate the mind. It’s like a double whammy with the explosion of taste you get when you try one of the Mercer Estate’s fine wines.

Kim makes a muscadine wine jelly out of some of the different wines. There was some discussion on which vintage of Hattie it was actually made from. It was a very good jelly that would taste so good on some homemade warm biscuits. Yum!

The next wine that was shared in our glasses. Oh I should say in the beginning of wine tasting there is a new glass for each taste. By now we are just wiping out with a napkin or shaking the glass into the “vinegar vat”. I wiped my glass out with my tongue…no sense in wasting fine wine. We had a Sally Mae 2011 Vintage. Sally Mae was named after a Dalmatian. It was a little flat.

“At this time I won’t sell them in a store.” Shannon says.

There are many variables that effect the wine making process. Right now the vineyard is going through many changes, and under construction in more ways than one. Shannon explained how they have recently tried a new way of pruning the grapevines. After touring through one of the yards, he was very impressed with the outcome of the new pruning technique. With the weather and conditions constantly changing, new techniques are part of the routine process for Shannon in managing the vineyards.

The next wine we tried was a Mal’et 2013 Vintage pronounced ma-lee. I add this in because with my accent I want to call it “my lay”. This is named after a terrier-poodle mix of a mongrel dog that Shannon loved. This was my favorite. It has a very full body red wine taste with a little fizzy sparkle. Yes I could drink gallons of this tasty wine.

There is a battery of barrels, all different woods, coming from Italy. It takes 25 years to brew a good balsamic and Mercer House Estates will be the first to produce a muscadine balsamic.

Our next taste comes from Neal-Anne, which is an interesting story about the image. Apparently the praying mantis would land on both Shannon and Kim while they were out in the vineyards. They decided to use their middle names for this fine wine, which would make an excellent table wine, if you ask me. I gave it an 8.

Bottles without labels are referred to as ‘Shiner’s’ (because moonshiner’s never labeled their bottles. We tried one of these which was a strawberry and raisin blend. Very sweet. Would make a good jelly wine. It was quite new and if it has a little more time to age, it will be an excellent blend. Not sure if they have a name for that one yet. Kim mentioned the song by Deana Carter. Of course we remember that song! Who wouldn’t?

We tried Adele 2013 Vintage. This hummingbird label was illustrated by Bob Hickman. The wine is a very tasty fizzy red. I liked it, but I can’t remember what I rated it. My notes have become a little hard to understand.

We toured the Barrel Room. It was filled with an assortment of 5 gallon bottles of wine in the making. They go through a three stage process of racking to clear the wine. Egg whites are used to help settle the particles in the wine. Apparently in the Old World, ox blood was used as a fining agent. It became illegal when Mad Cow Disease was discovered.

There were several more samples that we had the opportunity to taste. All were different and tasty in their own way. One of the reasons Shannon says he wouldn’t be able to sell in a store is because wine consumers find something they like, and they expect it to be the same the next time they buy it. Because conditions are ever changing so are the flavors of Mercer House Estates wines.

If you have the opportunity to visit Mercer House Estate Vineyards, you will meet some very nice people, and your taste buds will not be disappointed. Right now they are waiting for the license to be approved to sell wine, but they have many other items available. Visit the website at or on Facebook





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