Fifty years ago, a small winery called Ste. Michelle Vintners introduced its first vintage of European-style premium wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Yakima Valley. It was the release that inspired today’s thriving Washington wine industry. In those early days, however, few people recognized or understood the region’s potential.
“I remember being asked, wine from Washington? What side of the Potomac do the grapes grow on?” reflects Ted Baseler, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.
Fifty years later, no one gets the joke. Washington is now the nation’s number two producer of premium wine with more than 50,000 planted acres, nearly 1,000 wineries and 14 AVAs. Chateau Ste. Michelle is the number two premium domestic wine brand sold in the U.S. (Nielsen-Dollars), with wines available in all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Chateau Ste. Michelle is among the largest producers of Riesling in the world. The winery’s iconic French-style Chateau in Woodinville, outside of Seattle, is one of the most popular destination wineries in the country.
A series of special events and programs throughout 2017 will celebrate the past 50 years of the brand and set a foundation for continued success for both the winery and the Washington wine industry for years to come. Those programs include:
50th Anniversary Special Bottling Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
The winery released a commemorative label: 50th Anniversary Special Bottling of its Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (750ml, SRP: $15), which pays tribute to the first 1967 vintage. In addition, a one-time magnum (1.5L) bottling was released for retail and restaurants and serves as a great collector’s item.
“Cabernet Sauvignon is a standout variety from Washington, with silky tannins, rich complexity and concentrated fruit,” said Bob Bertheau, head winemaker. “That’s why our Columbia Valley Cabernet is the perfect choice to carry the nostalgic banner of our 50th anniversary. We hope you’ll raise a glass and help us celebrate the next 50 years!”
Golden Cork Sweepstakes
From Apr. 1 to Sept. 30, inside every 50th Anniversary Special Bottling of Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a chance to win one of 50 prizes. Four Grand Prize winners will be selected to win a trip for two to visit Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, WA. Visit www.ste-michelle50th.com for more details.
2017 Summer Concert Series
From June 1st to September 15th, the winery hosts its popular annual Summer Concert Series with artists including John Legend, Santana, Diana Krall, Chicago, Goo Goo Dolls and many more. For more information, visit: ste-michelle.com.
In September, the winery will release 4,800 numbered bottles of IMPETUS (750ml, SRP $125) by Chateau Ste. Michelle, the brand’s visionary wine showcasing the three varieties that are stellar in the Washington region but are not traditionally blended together (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Malbec).
Chateau Ste. Michelle History Book
This fall, the winery will release a highly illustrated coffee-table style book to tell the rich story of the Washington wine industry and Ste. Michelle’s role in bringing it to the forefront, commemorating the winery’s five decades of tradition and innovation. Proceeds from the book will benefit the Chateau Ste. Michelle College Scholarship Fund.
Newly Expanded Visitor Center
In August 2017, Chateau Ste. Michelle completed an expansion of the winery’s visitor center–the largest expansion in the winery’s history. Doubling the size to 22,731 sq. ft., the new visitor center features a modern 80-seat theater, an interactive blending room where guests blend their own bottle of wine from the winery’s iconic estate vineyards, private tasting salons, a Club Room, a restaurant style kitchen and more. The new visitor center will offer an extensive program of fun and informative wine and food classes.
“The opening of the new visitor center represents the next chapter in Chateau Ste. Michelle’s growth and will dramatically enhance our ability to offer world-class wine experiences for decades to come,” says Baseler. “We will be able to offer a wide range of unique wine experiences for visitors, whether they want to enjoy a tasting in one of our private tasting salons, take a guided tour of the winery, blend their own bottle of wine or attend special programs in our theater.”
For more information visit on the visitor center and list of classes, visit ste-michelle.com.
Community 50th Anniversary Weekend
A grand opening celebration for the winery’s new visitor center takes place on Sept. 2 and 3, 2017. Held at the Chateau during Labor Day weekend, the event will feature winery tours, tastings of special bottlings, food trucks, live music and more.
Following are some of the impressive achievements Chateau Ste. Michelle has accomplished during its first 50 years.
• Led by Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington wines have won international acclaim and the state now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the world’s great wine producing regions. Chateau Ste. Michelle itself has received a long list of awards including 22 “Wineries of The Year” honors (Wine & Spirits) and 18 “Top 100 Wines” designations (Wine Spectator).
• Chateau Ste. Michelle was the first winery to introduce international partners to Washington State. World wine luminaries sought partnerships with Chateau Ste. Michelle including Piero Antinori of Tuscany (Col Solare), Ernst Loosen of Germany (Eroica), and Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie of France (Tenet).
• Ste. Michelle helped pioneer the Washington growing region and today owns 3,500 acres of some of the most mature vineyards in Washington, including Canoe Ridge Estate and Cold Creek vineyards, which are the largest sustainably farmed and LIVE and Salmon Safe certified vineyards in the state.
• Chateau Ste. Michelle also has a long history of giving back to the industry and community. The net proceeds from its popular Summer Concert Series help fund its charitable giving program, which supports some 400 non-profit organizations annually, has provided more than $3 million for scholarships for high-achieving, low-income students at Washington universities, and supports the Viticulture & Enology Program at Washington State University.
“It is truly remarkable what Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Washington wine industry have accomplished in a relatively short period of time through a pioneering spirit, collaboration and hard work,” said Baseler. “With significant new vineyard plantings, industry investment in research and the education of future grape growers and winemakers, we can honestly say, the best is yet to come.”
For additional information about Chateau Ste. Michelle, please visit www.ste-michelle.com.