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Ste Michelle to Leave Woodinville?

Wednesday, 20 July 2022 16:21
Woodinville chateau that has been the identity of Ch Ste. Michelle Woodinville chateau that has been the identity of Ch Ste. Michelle Photo:Wikipedia

By Dan Clarke

Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington’s most significant wine operation. That’s indisputable, no matter how you measure things.

Though production has been scaled back somewhat in recent years, the company is still credited with making about 60 percent of the state’s wine. Ste. Michelle has been a leader not just in volume, but also in quality and in wine industry leadership.

A month ago, the company announced it had listed its Woodinville home campus with a Dallas-based realty company.  Ste. Michelle says it will consider divesting all or part of its 118-acres, which include winemaking and storage facilities, as well as office space and tasting room. As of this time, no asking price has been disclosed. Such a move would seem to be a big step in the direction toward efficiency on the part of Sycamore Partners, the New York-based private equity firm which purchased Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in July of last year for a reported $1.2 billion.

While Woodinville is close to Seattle and the more populous west side, most of Washington’s grapes are grown in the southeast of the state. Logistical issues, including ever-increasing transportation costs, mean making wine far from their source is difficult. It’s speculated that Ste. Michelle will keep some sort of tasting room/hospitality presence in Woodinville, but the winery’s substantial production of white wines will be transferred to some location(s) in the grape growing region of the state. The company has produced all its red wines at its Canoe Ridge facility in the Horse Heaven Hills since 1993. That winery is set to assume Ste. Michelle’s white wine production for the harvest of 2022, with the possible addition of other winemaking facilities in the future.

A reduced presence of Ch Ste. Michelle Estate in Woodinville would be unfortunate for westside wine consumers, but their departure is not a certainty and will not take place immediately, in any case. Perhaps the company will develop visitor accommodations in the actual grape growing regions, which could benefit Washington’s wine industry overall.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 July 2022 16:29


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