The Northwest’s largest wine company, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, is drastically cutting back its grape volume and asking growers to renegotiate existing contracts.
Several vineyard owners contacted by Good Fruit Grower confirmed that the company told them it plans to reduce its crush by about 40 percent across its portfolio, starting this year with existing contracts. The growers declined to be named because they are negotiating individually with Ste. Michelle.
The company declined to discuss specifics but sent this statement to Good Fruit Grower and other media outlets: “We are currently working with our grower partners in Eastern Washington to adjust our grape supply to better align with demand and enable us to focus on crafting the highest quality premium wines from Washington. Our long-term relationships with our growers are extremely important to us, and while this is a difficult process, these proactive measures are necessary for the ongoing health of our business as well as the health of the overall Washington wine industry.”
Ste. Michelle is the third largest wine company in the United States. It owns wine properties and facilities throughout the West. For more than a decade, Ste. Michelle has crushed more than half of Washington’s wine grapes.
It was purchased in 2021 by New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners Management, which also owns retail stores, clothing companies and cruise ships, for $1.2 billion, from tobacco giant Altria.
Good Fruit Grower will continue to follow the implications of Ste. Michelle’s decisions on the Northwest wine industry. To participate, contact associate editor Ross Courtney at email@example.com or 509-930-8798.