Chateau Ste. Michelle plans to sell the Woodinville winery

Change could be coming to one of Washington’s most important wineries.

Chateau Ste. Michelle plans to sell her sprawling Woodinville property — which houses the tasting room, banquet halls and summer concert space — as it consolidates wine production east of the Cascades.

A company statement said Tuesday that Chateau Ste. Michelle is “considering all options” and warned the idea is still in its infancy.

The winery is part of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, which describes itself as the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and also sells wines under labels such as 14 hands and Columbia Crest.

Chateau Ste. Michelle has long split her production, making white wines in Woodinville and reds in eastern Washington. Beginning with this year’s harvest, the company plans to consolidate that production in eastern Washington, closer to its vines in the Columbia Valley, according to the statement.

“Producing wine in Woodinville so far from our Eastern Washington vineyards has resulted in decades of shipping millions of gallons of white wine to our Woodinville plant and burning nearly 75,000 gallons of diesel through more than 1,600 freight trips each year,” the company said.

Given this change, the company said it is “evaluating how best to utilize the facility in the future, including exploring a potential sale of our Woodinville property, or perhaps part of it”.

Commercial real estate firm CBRE put the site up for sale earlier this month, announcing 118 acres of “flexibly zoned land” that is “ready for redevelopment,” according to Washington Wine Reportwho first reported the potential sale.

The list does not appear to be publicly available online, and CBRE declined to comment or confirm the list.

The Château is a must-see in Woodinville, a suburb that has become a draw for tourists and local shoppers. The median single-family home in the area sold for $1.3 million last month.

The possible sale will not have immediate effects. The winery said it still plans to perform its 2022 summer concert series and welcome people to its tasting room. “This process is still in the exploratory phase and could take years to implement, if at all,” the statement said.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates was sold for $1.2 billion last year by tobacco company Altria to investment firm Sycamore Partners. Even before the pandemic closed tasting rooms, buyers were turning to alternatives and the state’s wine industry was producing excess inventory. Ste. Michelle’s operating profit fell from a profit of $50 million to a loss of $3 million from 2018 to 2019, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Elisha A. Tilghman