Bud Mercer, Horse Heaven Hills grower, dies at 71

Bud Mercer

Agricultural leader established vineyard in area in 1972


Capital Press

Washington agricultural leader Bud Mercer died Aug. 11 after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis.

He was 71.

Mercer, a third-generation Prosser, Wash., farmer, grew up on his family's sheep operation and transformed it into one of the state's larger irrigated vegetable farms.

He was also one of the first farmers in the region to become involved in the wine industry.

"Dad and the brothers were the first to plant a vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills in 1972," said Rob Mercer, his son. "He stepped up his involvement with the partnership with the Hogue family in 2006 to create Mercer Wine Estates."

He also helped bring irrigation water to the eastern part of Washington with the creation of the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association and also had a carrot-packing facility, which was sold in 2004, Rob Mercer said.

"He was definitely one of the pioneers of irrigated agriculture in the Horse Heaven Hills," Rob Mercer said. "Whatever he was doing he was trying to improve the community he was in whether that was the farm or agriculture."

Mercer was also active in his community and assisted with fundraising efforts and promotions for various community facilities.

He is survived by his wife, Patsy; sons, Rob and Will; a daughter, Julie; a stepson, Mark; and a stepdaughter, Lisa.

A life celebration will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at Mercer Meadows, on the Mercer Canyon farm, 495 Alderdale Road, with a reception to follow at Mercer Estates Winery in Prosser.

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