We had the opportunity to be hosted in part by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates during our company’s annual educational trip. SMWE represents two-thirds of all the wine production in Washington. Our base of operation was Seattle, and we settled in very nicely at Chateau Ste. Michelle for our orientation to SMWE’s portfolio of wines from some of the most prestigious wine regions of the world, including the Pacific Northwest, California, Italy, Germany, France, Chile, and New Zealand.
“Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the ‘String,’ with our collection of estate wineries being the ‘Pearls.’ We call this our ‘String of Pearls’ describing a collection of estate wineries, whose vineyards produce some of the best wines in the world,”
President and CEO Ted Baseler notes.
We visited Canoe Ridge Winery, Columbia Crest, and finally Col Solare, for tours and tastings. Especially exciting to us was the late crush this year and we were there to see it in action, from high-tech pickers to automated crushers, as well as the traditional hand-picking. Juice was flowing and the winemaking process was under way.
Washington State has eight Approved Viticultural Areas and we visited the largest one, Columbia Valley. The most fascinating aspect of the valley is its geological features from ice-age floods which occurred about 15,000 years ago and created the sandy soil the grapes thrive in. More than 99% of Washington wine grapes are grown in the Columbia Valley.
Washington is the second-largest wine-producing region in the U.S., after California. Thanks to three converging forces – soil, sun, and water – Washington’s Columbia Valley may just be the perfect place to grow grapes in the world.
Each winery we visited frames its story in the heritage of the land and the care of the vineyards.
Chateau Ste. Michelle, with its award-winning Riesling and its family of single vineyard wines.
Columbia Crest, with its world-class Merlot, the #1 Wine in the World, 2005 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, all the way through its portfolio of top rated wines.
Col Solare, a partnership with Marchesi Piero Antinori’s 26 generations of winemaking combining the promise of Red Mountain climate, terroir, and precision viticulture.
We would like to extend our thanks to Ste. Michelle Wines Estates for their extraordinary hospitality and especially to Lou Constant, Vice-President, Global Accounts Development, and Mo Kennedy, Director Global Accounts, Hotels.