Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/793596
28 / the tasting panel / march 2017 MILESTONES T oday Washington is the second largest wine-producing state in the country, but just 50 years ago, there were likely more cows than vines in the Evergreen State. The one thing that played a seminal role in the development of the Washington wine industry was the establishment of what is now the Pacific Northwest's leading producer: Chateau Ste. Michelle, established in 1967. Back then, it was called Ste. Michelle Vintners—it wasn't until the construction of the French-style chateau in Woodinville almost ten years later that the company officially became Chateau Ste. Michelle (CSM). Since then, Chateau Ste. Michelle has become much more than a name. Today, as Washington's oldest winery, CSM is the number-two premium domestic wine brand sold in the U.S. The success of its flagship Columbia Valley wine tier aside, over the years CSM has also partnered with highly regarded winemakers around the world to release Washington-grown wines, including Italy's Piero Antinori (Col Solare), Germany's Ernst Loosen (Eroica) and the Rhône's Philippe Cambie and Michel Gassier (Tenet Wines). In addition to these partnerships and the Columbia Valley wine, there are four other tiers—Indian Wells, Single Vineyards, Ethos and Artist Series—and at the apex of this col- lection is a new release launching in September 2017 called Impetus. A very small-production label (4,800 bottles), Impetus will feature what CSM considers among the three best red varieties Washington has to offer—varietal Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. All of this gives CSM much to celebrate, and this year for their 50th anniversary they'll be doing much more than the usual star-studded summer concert series. CSM will be opening their newly expanded visitor center in August and releasing a coffee-table book on CSM history. The biggest commemoratory bang, however, will be a special 50th anniversary bottling of Cabernet Sauvignon, featuring a new label honoring the inaugural 1967 vintage. The Golden Cork sweepstakes, running in conjunction with the anniversary, offers grand prize winners a trip for two to visit the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery outside of Seattle. Recently, The Tasting Panel sat down with winemaker Bob Bertheau, Head Winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle and a part of the team for 13 years. Despite his well-rounded, prestigious background—mentored by Bob Sessions at Hanzell Vineyards and David Ramey at Chalk Hill—Bertheau, like so many of his wines, is quite approachable, a pleas- ant surprise considering the weight on his shoulders—not simply because of the great scale and quality produced by CSM, but because there is an immense, now 50-year- old legacy to uphold. He may be affable, but Bertheau speaks with an air of confidence: "You want to carry the stone during your tenure to preserve the past, but you also have to continue to reinvent and look for new wines and new ways to make wine. You have to have that combination of legacy and history but also innovation and technology. That's what we're striving for—both." Bob Bertheau, Head Winemaker, Chateau Ste. Michelle, at Rancho Valencia Resort, Rancho Santa Fe, CA. The new, collectable 50th anniversary bottling of Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley. The Beginning of a Celebration . . . and a Wine Industry story and photos by Jessie Birschbach CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY SETS SAIL Look for more coverage of Chateau Ste. Michelle's 50th anniversary in The Tasting Panel and The Somm Journal throughout the coming year.