PROSSER, Wash. – Ste. Michelle Wine Estates announced this morning that it will move production of Snoqualmie Vineyards to Columbia Crest in Paterson and will rechristen the Prosser location as the tasting room for 14 Hands Vineyards.
“The location is perfect for 14 Hands,” said Erin Shane, spokeswoman for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Woodinville.
She said Snoqualmie will no longer have a tasting room presence, though the wines will be available in retail outlets, online and at the Columbia Crest retail shop.
Snoqualmie has been in its Prosser location since opening for production in 2002 and for visitors in 2003. Snoqualmie was started in 1983 by former Ste. Michelle winemaker Joel Klein. Mike Januik became its winemaker in 1987, then left three years later to take over winemaking at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Ste. Michelle bought Snoqualmie in 1991 and named Joy Andersen its head winemaker – a position she continues to hold today.
Snoqualmie was Wine Press Northwest‘s 2006 Washington Winery of the Year.
14 Hands started in 2002
Meanwhile, 14 Hands was a brand created by Ste. Michelle in 2002 and introduced in 2005 as a wine primarily in restaurants. The name comes from the size of wild horses that once roamed in what has become Washington wine country. According to legend, these small horses – which were 14 hands tall – would travel down the hills each day to drink from the Columbia River.
Keith Kenison, assistant winemaker at Columbia Crest, has been the 14 Hands winemaker since 2002. Kenison joined the company in 1992 at its Grandview winemaking facility in the Yakima Valley and eventually moved to Columbia Crest.
The wines have been a strong value brand for Ste. Michelle, with the red wines retailing for $12 and the whites selling for $10-$12. A tier of reserve wines sells for $30.
“The performance of 14 Hands has been nothing short of remarkable,” said Ted Baseler, CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. “We have watched 14 Hands evolve into a Washington powerhouse and the fastest-growing wine brand to reach 1 million cases sold in the history of the Washington wine industry.”
14 Hands reached 1 million cases in production last year and is sold nationwide and in 24 countries.
The Prosser winery will go through a remodel this spring and summer, and it will open as 14 Hands in time for harvest.