The SOMM Journal

December 2017 / January 2018

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{ }  85 only to California in total U.S. wine produc- tion. Chateau Ste. Michelle and its many tiered labels sell 3.4 million cases of wine every year to every state in the country, as well as in 100 countries around the world. It's by far the largest wine producer among Washington's 900-plus operating wineries. Kevin Corliss, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates' Vice President of Vineyards, has worked the vineyards there since 1983; naturally, he has an informed perspective on what the winery has learned about viticulture in the rain shadow east of the Cascades. Because Eastern Washington gets only about six inches of rain a year, the region is essentially a desert. "When I started here, our irrigation practices took a page out of the fruit tree book," Corliss says. "You water a lot and you get big berries, but you also get a lot of veg - etal character in the wines. In the mid-1990s, we started to learn what water can do and realized we had the ability to completely control what the vines experience. If there's water available to the vines, we put it there." Corliss also says that due to Washington's sandy soils—and perhaps other as-yet- undiscovered reasons—phylloxera hasn't been a problem and "virtually all of Washington's vines are planted on their own roots." Tiny root-damaging worms known as nematodes are an increasing issue, though, and "eventually we're going to have to do something" about them, Corliss adds. Bob Bertheau, Head Winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle Vineyards. CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE CELEBRATES ITS 5OTH ANNIVERSARY

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