WOODINVILLE, Wash. — Chateau Ste. Michelle said Wednesday it will consolidate its winemaking operations to eastern Washington, possibly selling its location in the city it was founded.
The company said the consolidation will begin with the 2022 harvest, citing the impact of shipping wine across the state.
Ste. Michelle's vineyards are located in eastern Washington's Columbia Valley, but its white wine production facility is located at its Woodinville Chateau.
Ste. Michelle said this process has resulted in decades of "shipping millions of gallons" of its white wine across the state, burning "75,000 gallons of diesel through over 1,600 freight trips each year."
"With this change to our winemaking operations, we are evaluating how to best utilize the facility going forward, including exploring a potential sale of our Woodinville property, or perhaps a portion of it," Ste. Michelle said in a statement.
The sale of the property has not been "predetermined" and Ste. Michelle said it is still exploring all options to improve how it produces its wine.
Ste. Michelle said it's still in the "exploratory" phase and that it could take years for a sale to happen, if at all.
Woodinville Mayor Mike Millman said he hopes the winery can maintain a presence in the city.
"They have expressed they have a desire to remain in Woodinville, so I hope that continues because it’s a huge part of what Woodinville is,” Millman said.
While Ste. Michelle leaving Woodinville would be a loss, there are other wineries in the area that would still serve as a draw for customers, Executive Director of Woodinville Wine Country Adam Acampora said.
"I think that Chateau definitely set the benchmark but again we have our own personalities of winemakers now that are coming out of Washington that are completely independent of Chateau,” he said.
Ste. Michelle was sold for around $1.2 billion to a private equity firm by its parent, the tobacco company Altria, in the summer of 2021.
Ste. Michelle describes itself as the nation’s third-largest wine company, farming nearly 30,000 acres across Washington, Oregon and California.
According to the Chateau Ste. Michelle's website, the vineyard was founded on the Woodinville estate of Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson, which was originally built in 1912. Its Woodinville Chateau was built in 1976.