March 12, 2001
Chateau Ste. Michelle.
Chateau Ste. Michelle celebrates 25 years
Twenty five years ago this year Chateau Ste. Michelle opened its doors in Woodinville.
To commemorate its silver anniversary, the winery will host a "25 Years of History" celebration on March 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Festivities will include a cellar sale, complimentary tours and tastings.
Visitors will have the opportunity to taste and purchase cellar-aged wines, find unique vintage lots, and purchase great values by the case.
Complimentary tours of the chateau will run every half-hour from 10:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m. daily.
Current vintage wines and unique gifts will be available in the retail shop.
Founded in 1934, Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington state's oldest winery. It pioneered vinifera grape growing in the state and has been producing classic European varietal wines since 1967.
In September of 1976, the winery moved its operations from a small Seattle warehouse to the newly constructed French-style chateau on 87 wooded acres in Woodinville. The estate was once home to Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson.
"What a joy it has been for Chateau Ste. Michelle to grow up right along with Woodinville and bring world attention to the city as a great wine center," said Bob Betz, vice-president of winemaking research and one of people that has been there since 1976. The others include Jerry Farmer in shipping (since 1966); Meryl Rickey, cellarmaster (since 1975); and cellar staff Terry Combs, Todd Fitzgerald and Ken Burkholz, (all since 1976).
"Thousands of awards, gold medals and high scores are a testament to how Washington State wineries and Chateau Ste. Michelle have emerged as world class winemakers for the past two and one-half decades," said Betz.
"In 1978 I was in Florida with a presentation and wine tasting of Washington wines. A question came from the floor asking on which side of the Potamac River did we grow our grapes," said Betz.
Betz commented on how Washington is now the second largest classic wine producing state in the nation, with California in first position.
Many people from Chateau Ste. Michelle have gone on to other notable positions. Charles Finkle established Merchant du Vin, Paul Shipman began Red Hook Brewery, Joel Klein established Snoqualmie Winery (now owned by Stimson Lanes which is the holding company for Chateau Ste. Michelle), Kay Simon and her husband established Chinook Winery, Wade Wolfe became the vice-president of Hoque Cellars, Cherly Barber Jones became the winemaker for Silver Lake Winery and Wally Updike, former president of Chateau Ste. Michelle, became a leader in investments.
During the 1980s the Stimson Manor home became part of the historic register.
Ted Basler took over as the new president of Chateau Ste. Michelle in January. Erik Olsen is the winemaker.
Chateau Ste. Michelle has been an active member of the Woodinville community since 1976 with the chamber of commerce and community groups.
One of the first concerts held on the grounds was the Preservation Jazz Band. Later a stage was built and the concerts became more frequent. Today the stage has been improved for world-class entertainment.
Outdoor summer concerts, wine tastings, tours and educational programs bring more than 250,000 guests annually to the Woodinville winery.
For information on Chateau Ste. Michelle's "25 Years of History" in Woodinville celebration, call (425) 415-3300.