Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Wendy Stuckey leaving for New Zealand

By on March 24, 2015
Chateau Ste. Michelle

Wendy Stuckey joined Chateau Ste. Michelle in 2007, moving to Washington from her native Australia.  She will head to New Zealand to be chief winemaker for Constellation. (Photo courtesy of Chateau Ste. Michelle)

WOODINVILLE, Wash. – The world’s No. 1 Riesling producer is losing its white winemaker.

Wendy Stuckey, whose prowess with Riesling helped elevate Chateau Ste. Michelle since her arrival in 2007, is heading back to the Southern Hemisphere after nearly eight years in Washington.

Stuckey, an Australian native, has been named chief winemaker for Constellation New Zealand.

“My husband is a New Zealander, so it’s almost home,” Stuckey told Great Northwest Wine.

Constellation, which owns several Pacific Northwest wineries including Hogue Cellars in Washington’s Yakima Valley, has four wineries in New Zealand. The most prominent is Kim Crawford Winery in Marlborough on the South Island. It also owns Drylands Estate Winery in Marlborough, Corner 50 Winery in Hawkes Bay and Nobilo Winery in Auckland.

“They make a little bit of Riesling,” she said. “I’ll be going from a Riesling powerhouse to a Sauvignon Blanc powerhouse. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep my hand in it.”

Wendy Stuckey enjoyed time in Washington

Wendy Stuckey is the white winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Wendy Stuckey grew up in Australia and worked in the wine industry there for several years before coming to Washington state in 2007. She’s now heading back to the Southern Hemisphere. (Photo courtesy of Chateau Ste. Michelle)

Stuckey arrived at Washington’s largest and oldest winery just after harvest in 2007. She’d actually planned to arrive in time for the grapes to be picked, but obtaining a work visa held up the process by several weeks.

For her role in New Zealand, Stuckey will arrive just as harvest wraps up.

“That’s OK,” she said. “I’ll be involved in the blending.”

Stuckey said her time in Washington has been enjoyable and enlightening.

“I’ve really enjoyed making wine here,” she said. “Coming to a large company was a great experience. I was exposed to many different regions within Washington. I’ve grown as a person and as a winemaker. It’s been a great experience for me, and my family has loved it. When these opportunities are placed in front of you, it is a hard decision.”

Stuckey said that while Washington and New Zealand provide similar geographic features – mountains, water and outdoor activities in particular – she will miss the great skiing she’s enjoyed in Washington. She and her family have come to love such resorts as Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass, and they also ventured into British Columbia to ski at Whistler and Sun Peaks.

While there is a ski area not far from where she will be working in New Zealand, it isn’t much more than a couple of rope tows, she said ruefully.

She said that while she has been able to find Vegemite (a spicy Australian food paste) in the United States, she does look forward to once again being able to eat Hokey Pokey, a New Zealand vanilla ice cream with chunks of toffee in it.

Stuckey brought level of detail to winemaking

Bob Bertheau is the head winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Bob Bertheau, head winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle, recruited Wendy Stuckey to the world’s largest producer of Riesling in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Chateau Ste. Michelle)

Bob Bertheau, head winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle, has known Stuckey for many years, back when they both worked at the same winery in California’s Sonoma County. Bertheau recruited Stuckey to Chateau Ste. Michelle during the 2007 Riesling Rendezvous, which took place at the Woodinville winery. At the time, she was working for Wolf Blass, a large winery in South Australia, where she had earned a reputation as one of her country’s top Riesling producers.

Bertheau said that while he was well known for his white wines and, in fact, was recruited to Ste. Michelle as white winemaker, his experience with Riesling was limited. When he arrived in Washington, he was mentored by Ernst Loosen, Ste. Michelle’s German partner in Eroica Riesling.

“Ernst brought a global perspective,” Bertheau said. “He taught me the soul of Riesling.”

When Stuckey arrived in late 2007, she contributed a technical perspective, he said.

“Wendy has brought a level of professionalism and a level of detail we’ve appreciated for the past eight years,” he said. “She brought a more detailed approach to winemaking, and she benefited our entire state.”

Bertheau knew Stuckey wouldn’t spend the rest of her career in Washington because she yearned to return Down Under, but he has been happy with the years she gave to Chateau Ste. Michelle.

“She departs a dear friend,” he said.

Stuckey is not the first Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker to land a top position within Constellation. Erik Olsen was Ste. Michelle’s white winemaker from 1993 to 2002 until he was recruited to California’s Clos du Bois, which later was purchased by Constellation Brands. In 2010, Olsen was promoted to chief winemaker for Constellation Wines U.S.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has not named a successor for Stuckey.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.


  1. Who is taking her place?

  2. […] succeeds Wendy Stuckey, who left Chateau Ste. Michelle last month to take on the new position of director of winemaker for Constellation New […]

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