Now it can add another one: Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year for 2013. The award, which is given by Wine Press Northwest, is highly prestigious.
For the past 12 years, the magazine has bestowed this award, as well as others, including Winery of the Year for each state in the region.
“This is an exciting honor and a testament to the decades of investment we have made in quality winemakers, vineyards, cellar equipment and winery staff,” says Ted Baseler, Chateau Ste. Michelle president and C.E.O. “It’s rewarding to be recognized for the quality of our wine and contributions we have made to the Washington wine industry.”
The Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year is selected via a process that considers a number of factors such as the winery’s longevity, quality, reputation, industry involvement, facilities and other considerations.
A winery may only win the award once. Chateau Ste. Michelle’s roots date back to 1934 when two wineries, Pommerelle and National Wine Company were launched in Seattle. Though rivals, the wineries eventually merged 20 years later to become American Wine Growers. In 1965, the name changed to Ste. Michelle Vintners and then in 1972, it emerged as Ste. Michelle Vineyards.
Two years later, U.S. Tobacco bought the company and built an impressive winery in Woodinville, renaming it Chateau Ste. Michelle. By this time, the winery was the largest wine operation in Washington.
Further expansion led to the creation of Columbia Crest and the purchase of Snoqualmie Vineyards. To accommodate its portfolio of acquisitions, the company renamed itself Stimson Lane Vineyards & Estates, inspired by the late Frederick Stimson, a Seattle lumber baron who had a dairy operation where Ste. Michelle is located today.
Baseler took the reins of the company in 2000 and four years later he renamed it Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. He also promoted Bob Bertheau to head winemaker and gave him responsibility of the winery’s red wine program.
Bertheau eventually brought in noted Australian Riesling producer Wendy Stuckey as his white winemaker. The winery’s commitment to quality has driven its continued success in the industry and given it a reputation for renowned, top-rated wines.