Change could be coming to one of Washington’s most prominent wineries.
Chateau Ste. Michelle is considering selling its vast Woodinville property — home to the winery’s tasting room, banquet rooms and summer concert space — as it consolidates wine production east of the Cascades.
A company statement Tuesday said Chateau Ste. Michelle is “considering all options” and cautioned that the idea is still in the early stages. The winery is part of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, which describes itself as the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and also sells wines under labels such as 14 Hands and Columbia Crest.
Chateau Ste. Michelle has long split its production, making white wines in Woodinville and reds in Eastern Washington. Starting with this year’s harvest, the company plans to consolidate that production to Eastern Washington, closer to its vineyards in the Columbia Valley, according to the statement. “Producing wine in Woodinville so far removed from our Eastern Washington vineyards has resulted in decades of shipping millions of gallons of white wine to our Woodinville facility and burning nearly 75,000 gallons of diesel through over 1,600 freight trips each year,” the company said.
Given that change, the company said it was “evaluating how to best utilize the facility going forward, including exploring a potential sale of our Woodinville property, or perhaps a portion of it.” The commercial real estate firm CBRE listed the site for sale earlier this month, advertising 118 acres of “flexibly zoned land” that is “primed for redevelopment,” according to Washington Wine Report, which first reported the potential sale.
The listing does not appear to be publicly available online, and CBRE declined to comment or confirm the listing.
The Chateau is a fixture in Woodinville, a suburb that has become a draw for tourists and local homebuyers alike. The median single-family home in the area sold for $1.3 million last month. The possible sale won’t have immediate effects. The winery said it still plans to present its 2022 summer concert series and host people in its tasting room. “This process is still in the exploratory phase and could take years to implement, if at all,” the statement said.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates was sold for $1.2 billion last year from tobacco company Altria to the equity firm Sycamore Partners. Even before the pandemic shuttered tasting rooms, buyers were turning to alternatives, and the state’s wine industry produced a surplus of inventory. Ste. Michelle’s operating income went from a $50 million profit to a $3 million loss from 2018 to 2019, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.