Home Industry News Releases Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Announces Appointments to Winemaking Team

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Announces Appointments to Winemaking Team


Pacific Northwest’s flagship winery introduces new winemakers for three of the region’s leading brands

WOODINVILLE, Wash. (March 23, 2021) – Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and the third-largest premium winery in the U.S., has announced several appointments to its winemaking team, under the direction of Chief Winemaker Juan Muñoz-Oca.

Katie Nelson, who previously oversaw winemaking for Columbia Crest and ēlicit Wine Project, has been appointed to oversee winemaking for Chateau Ste. Michelle, the company’s flagship brand and the sixth-largest premium wine brand in the U.S.

“Katie is simply a phenomenal winemaker,” said Muñoz-Oca. “With her global palate, her commitment to the craft, and her passion for Washington’s terroir, I can think of no one better to lead Washington’s founding winery into the future.”

Nelson first joined Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in 1999, going on to serve as an enologist at Northstar Winery, assistant winemaker for Snoqualmie Vineyards, and red winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle. She took a brief hiatus in 2015 before returning to Columbia Crest in 2018.

“Through 28 years of winemaking, I’ve gained insight into global winemaking styles and regions,” said Nelson. “My love of Washington wines, undying curiosity, and enthusiasm are the backbone of my winemaking style. My goal is to create wines that are exciting to drink. I look forward to writing my own chapter in the distinguished history of Chateau Ste. Michelle.”

Nelson continues a long and proud tradition of women winemakers for Chateau Ste. Michelle dating to the earliest 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 overseeing winemaking for Columbia Crest and ēlicit Wine Project. He was previously responsible specifically for ēlicit Wine Project and the company’s other innovation projects.

“Will has an outstanding palate, a deep understanding of viticultural practices, and a deft touch in the cellar,” said Muñoz-Oca. “He’s also a natural leader, which is essential for any winemaker, particularly one leading such a complex and diverse winery.”

Wiles has a breadth of experience across the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates portfolio. After earning his bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology from Washington State University, he began his career at Columbia Crest in 2010, going on to work at Northstar and Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate before becoming assistant winemaker at Col Solare in 2013.

“I am incredibly honored to carry on the legacy of Columbia Crest and add my own chapter to its storied history,” said Wiles. “I’ve been fortunate to make wines across the spectrum, from site-specific collectibles to affordable everyday luxuries, and I look forward to doing both at Columbia Crest and ēlicit Wine Project.”

Long known for its value wines, Columbia Crest shocked the wine world in 2009 when its 2005 Columbia Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was recognized as the #1 Wine of the Year on Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 list.

Wiles becomes just the fifth winemaker in the 38-year history of Columbia Crest, following Nelson (2018–2021), Muñoz-Oca (2011–2018), Ray Einberger (2003–2011), and originally Doug Gore (1983–2003).

In Oregon, Leah Adint, previously the red winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle, has been appointed to work alongside longtime winemaker Gary Horner at Erath Winery, one of Oregon’s pioneering wineries and producer of the region’s best-selling pinot noir.

“Leah is an incredible talent,” said Muñoz-Oca. “She brings an impressive breadth of experience to her new role. Her precise and focused approach to winemaking combined with her adventurous spirit will surely become a force to be reckoned with in the Willamette Valley.”

After making wine in Australia, California, and Europe – including experience with pinot noir in Burgundy, Russian River Valley, and Adelaide Hills, which will be particularly relevant in her new role – Adint first joined Chateau Ste. Michelle in 2015 and was promoted to her prior role in 2018.

“I’ve been very fortunate to make wine in some amazing parts of the world,” said Adint. “I’m looking forward to putting down roots in the Oregon wine community and exploring what makes this place so special, both inside and outside the bottle.”

Adint holds a bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology from Washington State University, where she was a recipient of a scholarship from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, and later earned a master’s degree in oenology from the University of Adelaide.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates enjoys an impressive wealth of winemaking expertise across its entire portfolio:

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

  • Juan Muñoz-Oca, Chief Winemaker

14 Hands

  • Keith Kenison, Senior Director of Winemaking

Chateau Ste. Michelle

  • Katie Nelson, Vice President of Winemaking
  • David Rosenthal, Head Winemaker (Woodinville)
  • Brian Mackey, Head Winemaker (Canoe Ridge Estate)

Col Solare

  • Darel Allwine, Head Winemaker

Columbia Crest and ēlicit Wine Project

  • Will Wiles, Head Winemaker
  • Paula Eakin, Winemaker (Sparkling Wines)
  • Guy Barnes, Winemaker (White Wines)
  • Reid Klei, Winemaker (Red Wines)

Conn Creek

  • Elizabeth DeLouise-Gant, Head Winemaker

Erath Winery

  • Gary Horner, Senior Director of Winemaking
  • Leah Adint, Winemaker

Northstar Winery

  • David Merfeld, Senior Director of Winemaking

Patz & Hall

  • James Hall, Head Winemaker
  • Tom Klassen, Winemaker

Spring Valley Vineyard

  • Serge Laville, Head Winemaker

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

  • Marcus Notaro, Senior Director of Winemaking

Biographies and portraits for all winemakers can be found at trade.smwe.com/downloads.

About Ste. Michelle Wine 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 that dates to 1934, the winery now farms more than 30,000 acres across Washington, Oregon, and California and distributes its wines in over 100 countries. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates pioneered vinifera winegrowing in Washington and remains the driving force behind viticulture and enology research in the state, including the establishment of the Washington State University viticulture and enology program and the construction of the university’s research and teaching winery, now named the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center.

The Ste. Michelle Wine Estates portfolio includes Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14 Hands, Columbia Crest, Intrinsic, Erath, Patz & Hall, Borne of Fire, Northstar, and Spring Valley Vineyard, along with several other premium brands. The winery also has partnerships with Marchesi Antinori (Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Col Solare), Dr. Loosen (Eroica), and Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie (Tenet). Ste. Michelle Wine Estates serves as the exclusive U.S. importer for Marchesi Antinori and Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. For more information, please visit www.smwe.com.

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