Chateau Ste. Michelle named Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Bob Bertheau, head winemaker
Bob Bertheau, Chateau Ste. Michelle head winemaker. Courtesy photo.
Over the years, Chateau Ste. Michelle has earned some of the highest accolades in the wine industry, including World’s Most Admired Wine Brand, Washington’s Most Respected Brand, Wine Brand of the Year, U.S. Wine Producer of the Year and more.

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.

At Gobble, charities, not employees, are the recipients of tips

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Adam Gold, owner of Gobble Restaurant, presents a check for $500 to Terri Inglis, executive director of the Homeward Pet Adoption Center in Woodinville.
Tipping is an entrenched custom in our society.

Gratuities, though not mandatory, are expected for a majority of services rendered in such arenas as restaurants and bars, hair salons, spas, hotels, taxicabs and more.

At Gobble, however, there is a “no tipping” policy. The Woodinville eatery actually discourages customers from giving employees gratuities.

“We’ve had the policy in place since we officially opened last October,” says Gobble owner, Adam Gold. “Actually, it was a part of my business plan which I wrote three years ago.”

The Woodinville man explains, “I just get offended when I go into a Starbucks and they have the nerve to have a tip jar when they charge me four bucks for a cup of coffee. To me, it’s like having a tip jar at McDonald’s. I just think it’s wrong. And you shouldn’t need a bribe to be motivated to do a great job.”

Gold notes that he hires exemplary employees and pays them more than they’d normally make at a comparable job.

He adds, “We make sure they know that superlative effort and service are what’s expected all the time and so far they’ve delivered. Also, our full-timers have an ownership stake in the business via our bonus and profit-sharing plans, so that’s a significant motivation to go above and beyond as well.”

Instead of a tip container at the restaurant’s counter, there’s a Charity Jar. Customers, if they wish, can put their spare change in the jar. Gobble matches the money collected at the end of each month or so and donates it to a specific organization.

“People are so nice and generous around here,” says Gold. “They really want to show their appreciation to the staff for the great service and you can’t just tell them ‘no.’ So, the Jar became a good compromise, although some still sneak back and slip a few bucks to the employees when I’m not looking. The money ends up in the Jar anyway.”

For November/December, Gold presented a check for $500 to Homeward Pet Adoption.

In December/January, Build-On, which just built its 535th school worldwide, was the recipient of $700 from the restaurant.

Currently, Gobble is collecting funds for the YMCA’s Partners With Youth program.

“We choose organizations that I or our staffers are personally involved with,” comments Gold. “Each is thoroughly vetted and we are leaning heavily towards those that focus on kids and families.”

The Woodinville business owner notes that many of his customers are initially confused by the “no tipping” policy, but as soon as they understand the purpose of the Jar, most respond favorably and are very enthusiastic and supportive.

As for the employees, they’re fully on board, says Gold. “They are behind it and are lobbying for their personal favorite causes to be the next recipient of the Jar.”

Spring surprise

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff
Snow Carlson
Dannelle Carlson

Theft of bronze heron from memorial garden saddens church members

  • Written by Deborah Stone
HeronSometime over the weekend of March 15, a bronze statue of a heron was stolen from the property of Northshore United Church of Christ.

The piece was a lost wax casting, created by the church’s founding pastor and noted artist, Reverend Robert Haertig, in memory of his wife, Ruth.

The heron, which is about two and a half feet tall, had been installed in the church’s memorial garden 17 years ago.

“It is one of our favorite pieces,” says Cynthia Riggin, the church’s current pastor. “We are troubled that someone would take it — that someone would find themselves in such a place in their life that they would feel compelled to steal it.”

She adds, “The police have told us that it could possibly be someone who has a drug habit and needs the money. If that’s the case, they will probably sell it to scrappers who would melt it down.”

Pastor Riggins notes that the individual, probably the same person responsible for stealing the sculpture, has made attempts to take it in the past.

Whoever it is tried to bend parts of the piece and snap [them] off, but until recently, he/she has been unsuccessful.

Over the years, the church has had other brass fixtures stolen, even door stops, as well as a part of another bronze sculpture, which is located inside the building. There have also been a series of break-ins, especially in the shed, where landscaping tools are kept.

“They took the gas cans,” says Pastor Riggins, “so we don’t keep them there anymore.”

She adds, “The problems have been on-going, unfortunately.”

The disappearance of the heron, though, has saddened the entire congregation, perhaps most of all, Reverend Haertig.

Pastor Riggins explains that the idea for the sculpture arose at the memorial service for the Reverend’s wife.

She says, “Everyone was gathered in the memorial garden for prayers when a heron flew by. It lingered a bit before flying off. One of the Reverend’s children said, ‘There she goes,’ referencing the bird to Ruth.”

Pastor Riggins and the members of Northshore United Church of Christ would greatly appreciate it if the community could keep an eye out for the bronze piece, as the possibility that it will be melted down is very real and imminent.

“We would appreciate its return, no matter what the condition, though we’d love to get it back the way it was,” comments Pastor Riggins. “Our memorial garden is not the same without it.”

Woodinville City Council plans for the future

  • Written by Amanda Morton, Special to the Weekly
Tuesday’s Woodinville council meeting began with a review of the police department’s Crime and Traffic Report for January 2013, after which Councilmember Paulette Bauman expressed concern with the 42.6 percent crime increase when compared to January 2012.

“I know the report states that we have back-filled all the positions that needed to be filled, but we still have not filled the additional officer that we approved last fall,” said Bauman.

Richard Leahy, Woodinville city manager, confirmed the position is in the process of being filled. However, “it is not likely the additional officer will be out on the street until August or September,” he said.

Leahy further explained the waiting period for the additional officer has recently been prolonged due to the state’s reduction in available slots within the Law Enforcement Academy, as well as the extension of their training program.

“They can’t start moving bodies around until they have some who  are qualified,” Leahy said.

Later the conversation quickly transitioned from police personnel to the restoration of a historic building within Woodinville. Assistant to the City Manager Alexandra Sheeks introduced a proposal to the council regarding the Old Woodinville Schoolhouse.

The council voted to approve the proposed $98,607 contract for architectural and cost-estimating services.

The contract was then awarded to BLRB Architects.

“We need the services of an architect to estimate the size of a possible bond issue for the November ballet,” said Sheeks.

The Old Woodinville Schoolhouse resides on the city’s civic campus and is located at 13202 Northeast Street. While the school was originally built in 1909, it was renovated in 1936 and another wing was added to the brick building in 1949.

Currently the building remains unoccupied because of structural damage inflicted by the 2001 Nisqually earthquake. The city is seeking a restoration of the building for future use.

“I think it is a great opportunity to preserve something from our heritage and our community,” said Deputy Mayor Liz Aspen.

There were 10 applications summited for the project.  Interviews were conducted with the four finalists and then BLRB was selected. BLRB “has a lot of relevant experience with historic school buildings, with public and private renovations and with site planning,” she said.

BLRB Architects is based in Tacoma and was founded in 1953. The firm’s focused specialties include educational architecture, historic building assessment, documentation, preservation and restoration.

The contract with BLRB includes historical testing of materials, cost estimation and structural, mechanical, electrical and landscape review.

“We need to see what exactly is in the building so we know what we are working with and know what the cost is for rehabilitating those elements,” said Sheeks.

Aspen raised questions on how the building’s restoration plan would be designed due to the fact there is no current plan for the future usage of the schoolhouse building.

Gene Grulich, director of BLRB Architects’ Historic Preservation Studio, eased her concerns and said, “We do try to make the design fit precisely to the scope of the work given to us by our client, but we do have a process that we call adaptive reuse. Many historic buildings have to be adapted to a new use — sometimes for the reason that the old use has gone away, or that it wasn’t anticipating the new uses that you would need to have today. So we are going to look to the best way to make this building as flexible and as useable as it can be in the future, knowing that changes do take place.”