The history of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and its predecessors is the history of grape growing and winemaking in Washington. The companies that eventually became Ste. Michelle Wine Estates were among the first to make wines and plant classic vinifera varieties in the state. To understand the Company’s current success, it’s essential to understand its rich history.


Missionaries and French fur traders bring vinifera plants to eastern Washington and teach Native Americans how to irrigate the Yakima Valley.


NAWICO (National Wine Company) founded in Seattle and Grandview. Pommerelle fruit wines founded in Seattle.


Under guidance from general manager Vic Allison, NAWICO begins planting vinifera grapes in the Columbia Valley. First variety planted is Grenache.


Pommerelle and NAWICO merge to become American Wine Growers. Grenache released in cork-finished bottles.


American Wine Growers plants first white Riesling in the Yakima Valley at Hahn Hill Vineyard.


André Tchelistcheff, recently retired winemaker from Napa Valley’s Beaulieu Vineyards, visits Yakima Valley. Allison asks Tchelistcheff to become consultant to American Wine Growers.

American Wine Growers launches "Ste. Michelle" wines made from vinifera grapes grown in eastern Washington. Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Semillon, Grenache Rosé are the first varieties produced.


Ste. Michelle wines take increasing importance in the American Wine Growers portfolio so the Company name is changed to Ste. Michelle Vintners.


Ste. Michelle begins planting nearly 500 acres of vinifera varieties at Cold Creek Vineyard.


American Wine Growers sell the Company to a group of Seattle-area investors.


Groundbreaking begins for Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, which will become the Company’s headquarters.


The River Ridge Vineyard is established on the banks of the Columbia River. Groundbreaking begins for what will become the Columbia Crest Winery.


Doug Gore joins the Company as assistant winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle at the Grandview winery. He is later promoted to Columbia Crest winemaker and then, in 2003, Senior Vice President of Winemaking and Vineyards, overseeing the company’s Washington wineries, vineyards, and contract growers.


A new winery opens to the public at the River Ridge Vineyard site, later named Columbia Crest.

The Yakima Valley American Viticultural Area is approved.


The Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area is approved.

The Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area is approved.


Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates is formed as the umbrella Company to oversee the growing portfolio of wineries.

Stimson Lane purchases Villa Mt. Eden, among Napa Valley’s oldest wineries.

Stimson Lane also acquires one of Napa Valley’s most prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon wineries, Conn Creek.


Domaine Ste. Michelle sparkling wines are launched.


Barely two decades after the debut of the Chateau Ste. Michelle brand, the Washington wine industry boasts over 80 wineries and 11,000 acres of vinifera vines, making it American’s second largest producer of classic wines.


Snoqualmie winery is added to the company’s growing portfolio of brands. Joy Andersen is named winemaker at Snoqualmie.


Ground breaking begins for Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Winery and the first plantings of the Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard.


Canoe Ridge Winery is open in time for harvest.

First vintage of Northstar Merlot is produced.


The Red Mountain American Viticultural Area is approved.

Chateau Ste. Michelle partners with Marchese Piero Antinori, famed Italian winemaker, to release first vintage of Col Solare, an internationally-styled red wine from the Columbia Valley.


Rick Casqueiro is hired as winemaker for Domaine Ste. Michelle sparkling wines.


Washington’s Columbia Valley is now planted with 13,500 acres of classic grape varieties supplying fruit for over 90 wineries in the state and several more throughout the Northwest.


A new fermentation room for red wines is completed at Columbia Crest.

Ground breaking for Columbia Crest warehouse expansion, 207,000 square feet to accommodate 1.4 million additional cases. Combined warehousing at Columbia Crest is 417,000 square feet to accommodate 2.5 million cases.


Chateau Ste. Michelle joins with Dr. Ernst Loosen, one of Germany’s premier winemakers, to harvest Washington state grapes for a new dry Riesling, Eroica, and a premium sweet wine (trockenbeerenauslese), called Single Berry Select.

Construction begins on expansion of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Winery for increased red wine production capacity.


The new white wine barrel room at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Woodinville winery is completed.

Executive Vice President Ted Baseler is named President/CEO of Stimson Lane.

Wine Spectator rates the Single Berry Select Riesling 97 points - the publication’s highest ever rating for an American white wine.

Chateau Ste. Michelle introduces Eroica, a new dry Riesling made with Ernst Loosen of Germany using Washington state grapes.


The Northstar’s new winery is dedicated in Walla Walla.

Snoqualmie’s winery is inaugurated in Prosser, Washington.


Bob Bertheau named winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Ray Einberger named winemaker at Columbia Crest.


Stimson Lane Vineyards & Estates changes its name to Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (SMWE) to better reflect its rich history and vision for the future.

Snoqualmie Vineyards introduces its line of Naked wines, produced using sustainable agricultural methods from organically grown grapes.

The Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area is approved.


Ste. Michelle Wine Estates launches a new on-premise brand, 14 Hands from Washington State.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates acquires the acclaimed Spring Valley Vineyards outside of Walla Walla, Washington.

Red Diamond, available only on-premise since its launch in 2003, releases its Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Chardonnay nationally to customers in all channels of distribution.

The Horse Heaven Hills American Viticultural Area is approved.


State-of-the-art Col Solare winery is dedicated atop Red Mountain near Benton City, Washington.

Marcus Notaro is named Col Solare winemaker, working under the direction of Renzo Cotarella (Antinori’s head winemaker) and Doug Gore.

SMWE forms a strategic alliance with the Antinori family to exclusively distribute their wines in the U.S.

SMWE acquires Erath Winery, one of the Willamette Valley’s pioneering Pinot Noir producers, based in Dundee, Oregon.

The Wahluke Slope American Viticultural Area is approved.

The Rattlesnake Hills American Viticultural Area is approved.

David ’Merf‘ Merfeld is named winemaker for Northstar winery.


Chateau Ste. Michelle hosts first “Riesling Rendezvous,” an international gathering of Riesling producers, trade and media.

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars of Napa Valley, one of the world’s most highly regarded winery estates, is acquired by the joint venture partnership of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and the Antinori family.


Chateau Ste. Michelle hosts second “Riesling Rendezvous” with producers from 7 countries and 36 international journalists in attendance.

Chateau Ste. Michelle named one of Wine & Spirits Magazine’s "Wineries of the Year" for the 14th time and “Wine Brand of the Year” by Market Watch.

Columbia Crest celebrates 25 years of winemaking and, for the first time, sells 2 million cases of wine in a single year.

The Washington wine industry totals 550+ wineries and 33,000 acres of vinifera vines, making it America’s second largest producer of classic wines.


Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is named U.S. importer for Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, the No. 1 selling Champagne in France, along with ultra-luxury Champagne, Palmes d'Or.

Wine Enthusiast names Ted Baseler the wine industry’s “Man of the Year” for 2009.

Wine Spectator names Columbia Crest 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon the No. 1 Wine in the World for 2009. It is the first Washington wine to achieve this honor.

Conn Creek Winery opens AVA Blending Experience in Napa Valley, allowing consumers to learn about, taste and blend wines from the AVA’s many distinctive regions.


Ste. Michelle Wine Estate is named U.S. importer for Villa Maria Estates, New Zealand’s most awarded winery.


Juan Muñoz Oca is named head winemaker for Columbia Crest.

Drinks International names Chateau Ste. Michelle the top Most Admired Wine Brand in the U.S.

Columbia Crest is named one of Wine & Spirits “American Wineries of the Year.”

Col Solare opens its Bottega at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville.


Seven Falls Wines is introduced.

Northstar celebrates its 10th anniversary by launching the limited production Northstar Premier.

Chateau Ste. Michelle receives the U.S. Producer of the Year and the Trophy for Cabernet Sauvignon at the International Wine and Spirit Competition.


Chateau Ste. Michelle is named “Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year” by Wine Press Northwest.

O Wines, which helps to fund scholarships for low-income women, is released nationwide.

Anew Riesling is introduced.

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars breaks ground on new visitor center at historic Napa Valley estate.

Marcus Notaro is named head winemaker for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

Darel Allwine is named head winemaker for Col Solare.

Winemakers and media converge at Chateau Ste. Michelle for 4th Riesling Rendezvous.

New sparkling wine Michelle launches in September and debuts nationwide.

Northstar opens the Blending Experience, the first consumer blending experience of its kind in Washington state.

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars receives the U.S. Producer of the Year trophy at International Wine and Spirit Competition.

Ted Baseler is named among “20 Most Admired People in the North American Wine Industry,” by Vineyard & Winery Management.


The Washington wine industry totals 750+ wineries and 43,000+ acres of vinifera vines, making it America’s second largest producer of classic wines.

14 Hands opens new winery in Prosser, Washington.