WOODINVILLE, Wash. (March 23, 2021) – Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and the third largest premium winery in the United States, has announced a number of appointments to its winemaking team led by Juan Muñoz-Oca.
Cathy Nelson, who was previously responsible for winemaking at Columbia Crest and the ēlicit Wine Project, has become manager of winemaking at Chateau Ste. Michelle, the company’s flagship brand and the sixth largest premium brand in the United States.
Katie is just a phenomenal winemaker, Muñoz-Oka said. With his world-class taste, dedication to the craft and passion for Washington’s terroir, I can’t imagine anyone better to lead Washington’s founding winery into the future.
The first time Nelson is in St. Petersburg, he’s in the middle of the night. Michelle Wine Estates in 1999, worked as an enologist for Northstar Winery, assistant winemaker for Snoqualmie Vineyards, and red winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle. She took a short break in 2015 before returning to Columbia Cross in 2018.
In my 28 years in the wine industry, I have gained a good understanding of the styles and wine regions of the world, Nelson said. My love of Washington wines, unwavering curiosity and enthusiasm are the foundation of my wine style. My goal is to make wines that are pleasant to drink. I look forward to writing my own chapter in the extraordinary history of Château Ste. Michelle.
Nelson is part of a long and proud tradition of female winemakers at Château Ste. Michelle from the early days of the winery, including Cheryl Barber-Jones (1976-1990), Kay Simon (1977-1984) and Wendy Stuckey (2007-2015).
Will Wiles has been appointed to replace Nelson, who oversees winemaking at Columbia Cross and the ēlicit Wine Project. Previously he was responsible for the ēlicit wine project and other innovative projects within the company.
Will has an excellent palate, a thorough knowledge of winemaking and a deft approach in the cellar, Muñoz-Oka said. He is also a natural leader, which is essential for any winemaker, especially when it comes to managing such a complex and diverse vineyard.
Wiles has extensive experience in the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. After earning his bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology from Washington State University, he began his career at Columbia Crest in 2010, then worked at Northstar and Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate, and became assistant winemaker at Col Solare in 2013.
I am incredibly honored to continue the legacy of Columbia Cross and add my own chapter to its history, Wiles said. I’ve been fortunate enough to produce everything from location-specific collectibles to affordable everyday luxuries, and I look forward to continuing to do so at Columbia Crest and ēlicit Wine Project.
Long known for its award-winning wines, Columbia Crest surprised the wine world in 2009 when its 2005 Columbia Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was named best wine of the year on Wine Spectator magazine’s annual Top 100 list.
Wiles becomes the fifth winemaker in Columbia Cross’ 38-year history, following Nelson (2018-2021), Munoz-Oka (2011-2018), Ray Einberger (2003-2011) and, originally, Doug Gore (1983-2003).
In Oregon, Lea Adint, formerly red wine manager at Chateau Ste. Michelle, has been assigned to work with Gary Horner, a first-time winemaker, at Erath Winery, one of Oregon’s premier wineries and producer of the region’s best-selling Pinot Noir.
Leah is an incredible talent, Muñoz-Oka said. She brings an impressive array of experiences to her new role. His precise and focused approach to winemaking, coupled with his adventurous spirit, will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with in the Willamette Valley.
Having made wine in Australia, California and Europe – including pinot noir experience in Burgundy, the Russian River Valley and the Adelaide Hills, which will serve her well in her new role – Adint first joined Château Ste. Michelle in 2015 and was promoted to her former position in 2018.
I’ve been fortunate to make wine in some amazing parts of the world, Adint said. I look forward to establishing my roots in the Oregon wine community and discovering what makes this place so special, both inside and outside the bottle.
Adint earned her bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology from Washington State University, where she received a scholarship from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and subsequently completed a Master of Wine degree at the University of Adelaide.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has an impressive experience in the field of winemaking:
Ste. Michelle Vineyards
- Juan Muñoz-Oca, head winemaker.
- Keith Kenison, Senior Director of Winemaking.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
- Cathy Nelson, Vice President of Winemaking.
- David Rosenthal, head winemaker (Woodinville).
- Brian Mackey, head winemaker (Canoe Ridge Manor).
- Daryl Allwyn, head winemaker.
Columbia Crest and Wine Project.
- Will Wiles, head winemaker.
- Paula Eakin, winemaker (sparkling wines)
- Guy Barnes, winemaker (white wines)
- Reed Clay, winemaker (red wines)
- Elizabeth DeLuise-Gant, head winemaker.
Erat Wine Estate
- Gary Horner, Senior Director of Winemaking.
- Leah Adint, winemaker.
- David Merfeld, Senior Director of Winemaking.
Patz & Hall.
- James Hall, head winemaker.
- Tom Klassen, winemaker.
Spring Valley Winery
- Serge Laville, head winemaker.
Stag’s Wine Cellars.
- Marcus Notaro, Senior Director of Winemaking.
Biographies and portraits of all winemakers are available at trade.smwe.com/downloads.
About Ste. Michelle Vine Estates.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and the third largest premium winery in the United States. With a distinguished history dating back to 1934, the winery now spans more than 30,000 acres in Washington, Oregon and California and distributes its wines to more than 100 countries. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates pioneered viticulture in Washington State and continues to drive viticulture and enology research in the state, including establishing Washington State University’s viticulture and enology program and building a university research and teaching winery, now known as the Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Research Center.
Portfolio of vineyards Ste. Michelle understands the Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14 Hands, Columbia Crest, Intrinsic, Erath, Patz & Hall, Borne of Fire, Northstar, Spring Valley Vineyard and many other top brands. The winery also has partnerships with Marchesi Antinori (Deer Cellars and Col Solare), Dr. Loosen (Eroica) and Michel Gassier and Philippe Camby (Tenet). Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the exclusive US importer of Marchesi Antinori and Nicolas Feuillatte champagnes. For more information, please visit www.smwe.com.
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