Ste. Michelle Wine Estates closes wineries, tasting rooms to public

By on March 13, 2020
chateau ste michelle grounds richard duval images - Ste. Michelle Wine Estates closes wineries, tasting rooms to public
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington state’s oldest and most acclaimed winery, will be closed to the public indefinitely beginning Saturday, March 14, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. (Richard Duval Images)

WOODINVILLE, Wash. — Ste. Michelle Wine Estates – the largest wine company in the Pacific Northwest – announced late Friday that all of its wineries and tasting rooms will be closed to public effectively immediately in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The closure includes six properties in Washington, led by Chateau Ste. Michelle, which means its popular Summer Concert Series is uncertain.

“We have decided to take this decisive action out of an abundance of caution for our employees, our guests, their families and the general public,” Jim Mortensen, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates stated in a news release.

“We will continue to closely monitor the conditions in each of the communities where we operate and will continue to follow the guidance of public health authorities. This pandemic is truly an extraordinary event, and we believe it is our responsibility to act decisively in the best interests of the communities where we work and live,” Mortensen added.

The company did not provide a timetable for reopening wineries and tasting rooms to the public.

Ste. Michelle’s announcement served as a sharp contrast to a string of news releases sent out throughout Friday by regional wineries, alerting followers of revised tasting room hours and detailing sanitization efforts to protect tasting room visitors and employees.

According to the announcement issued at 8 p.m. Friday by Ryan Pennington, senior director of communications & corporate affairs for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the closure restricts public access to Ste. Michelle’s wineries and tasting rooms but will not impact the company’s other non-public business operations.

Last year, the 27-concert lineup for the 35-year-old series was announced on March 3. At this point, concerts by John Legend (Sept. 10-11) are the only shows scheduled for the 4,100-seat amphitheater. The announcement for the Legend performances, however, came Feb. 6. Washington state’s first case of 2019 novel coronavirus was reported Jan. 21.

Closure affects 7 wineries in Washington, Oregon

erath winery back patio ste michelle wine estates - Ste. Michelle Wine Estates closes wineries, tasting rooms to public
The Dundee Hills tasting room for Erath Winery closed permanently on Friday, March 13. Ste. Michelle Wine Estate’s long-term lease with the Knudsen family ends March 31, and the setting will become the home for Knudsen Vineyards’s first tasting room. (Photo courtesy of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates)

The following Ste. Michelle properties are included in the closure:

• 14 Hands Winery, Prosser, Wash.
• Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, Wash.
• Col Solare Winery, Benton City, Wash.
• Columbia Crest Winery, Paterson, Wash.
• Conn Creek Winery, St. Helena, Calif.
• Erath Winery, Dundee, Ore.
• Northstar Winery, Walla Walla, Wash.
• Patz & Hall Winery, Sonoma, Calif.
• Spring Valley Vineyard, Walla Walla, Wash.
• Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Napa, Calif.

Ironically, Saturday, March 14, was scheduled to be the final day for Erath Winery to operate its historic tasting room in the Dundee Hills. Ste. Michelle’s long-term lease to that parcel within expansive Knudsen Vineyards expires at the end of March.

Descendants of the late Cal Knudsen plan to open a tasting room for Knudsen Vineyards this summer.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the President and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for a decade. He is a frequent wine judge at international wine competitions throughout North America and orchestrates 10 Northwest competitions each year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *