The Pacific Northwest’s leading wine company introduces new winemakers for two of the region’s acclaimed brands as two icons of winemaking retire
WOODINVILLE, Wash. (June 15, 2022) – Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and the third-largest premium winery in the U.S., has announced several changes to its winemaking team, under the direction of Chief Winemaker Juan Muñoz-Oca.
After 9 years as winemaker for Col Solare and 26 years with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Darel Allwine will retire at the end of June.
Allwine joined the team at Col Solare in 2006 as a cellar master before taking over as Head Winemaker in 2013. He has consistently crafted remarkable, critically acclaimed wines with premium fruit from the winery’s Red Mountain estate.
“When I started my career at Ste. Michelle 21 years ago, I was introduced to a level of passion, attention to detail, and dedication that I had not seen before, three characteristics that are the foundation of a great winemaker. Darel embodies all three,” said Juan Muñoz-Oca, Chief Winemaker for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.
“Over the years his craft evolved to a place in which his wines are a truthful representation of the place where the grapes are grown. His ability to refine the at times forceful Red Mountain tannins while still showcasing what’s unique in the appellation is second to none. I cannot thank Darel enough for the years we have worked together. The legacy of the amazing wines he’s made will be part of the history of Col Solare and the Washington wine industry,” Muñoz-Oca continued.
A Washington State native, Allwine spent 20 years in the Air Mobility Command of the United States Air Force before starting his “second act” as a winemaker. His time in the Air Force included a stint in Germany where he first became interested in wine while touring the Mosel and the Rheingau. When he retired from the Air Force and returned home, he answered an ad for a cellar worker at Columbia Crest Winery, and the rest is as they say, history.
Stephanie Cohen, who has been working alongside Allwine at Col Solare since 2020, has been named Winemaker.
Working with premium grapes from Red Mountain was a major draw for Cohen, “I love the intimate relationship with the vineyard that the estate property provides,” she says of Col Solare. “The intense focus on quality, from the vineyard to the bottle, that comes with small production is unparalleled.”
Cohen holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan. She has held vineyard and cellar roles at wineries in New Zealand, California, Australia, and Oregon prior to joining Col Solare.
And, after nearly 20 years at the helm of one of Oregon’s founding wineries, Gary Horner of Erath Winery, will also retire at the end of the month.
With a Doctorate in Clinical Pharmacy, the science of winemaking came naturally to Horner. After becoming interested in wine and dabbling in making wine at home, Horner decided to pursue winemaking professionally. In 1988 he left a prestigious position with a Seattle area research hospital to work on the bottling line at Bethel Heights Vineyard in Salem, Ore. for just $6 an hour.
It was through his time with a handful of Oregon and Washington wineries––Bethel Heights, Witness Tree Winery, Washington Hills Winery, and Benton Lane Winery––that Horner honed the art and science of winemaking. In 2003, he joined Erath Winery, taking over as Head Winemaker from founder Dick Erath.
Since then, Horner has overseen significant growth for Erath, building an outstanding portfolio of wines, and leading the acquisition of two estate vineyards, Willakia in 2014 and Knight’s Gambit in 2016. His wines have achieved a long list of impressive ratings and acclaim, including cementing Erath’s position as the number one selling Pinot Noir from Oregon.
When asked what he’s most proud of, Horner said, “I am proud as heck of our wines. Each one of them. I am proud of the whole host of wonderful individuals I have had the opportunity to work with and guide. I am forever grateful for their contributions to our success.”
Leah Adint has been named Head Winemaker for Erath. Adint is just the third Head Winemaker in Erath’s 50-year history. She has held viticulture and winemaking roles at wineries in California, Australia, France, Switzerland, and Washington and holds a master’s degree in Oenology from the University of Adelaide. Prior to joining the winemaking team at Erath in 2021, she was the traveling winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle.
“Gary and Darel’s contributions to the wine community are immeasurable,” said Muñoz-Oca. “They have been incredible mentors to this next generation of winemakers. We are indebted to them for sharing their passion, knowledge, and artistry with us these many years. As we raise a glass to them, we also toast to Leah and Stephanie, two powerhouse winemakers in their own rights. We are excited to see what these next vintages will reveal in their exceptional hands,” he continued.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates enjoys an impressive wealth of winemaking expertise across its entire portfolio:
- Ste. Michelle Wine Estates: Juan Muñoz-Oca
- Chateau Ste. Michelle: Katie Nelson
- Col Solare: Stephanie Cohen
- Columbia Crest: Will Wiles
- 14 Hands Winery: Keith Kenison
- Northstar Winery: David Merfeld
- Spring Valley Vineyard: Serge Laville
- Erath Winery: Leah Adint
- Conn Creek: Elizabeth DeLouise-Gant
- Patz & Hall: James Hall
- Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars: Marcus Notaro
About Col Solare
Col Solare is an equal partnership between two influential wine producers who are recognized leaders in their respective regions: Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle and Italy’s Marchesi Antinori. From the inaugural 1995 vintage, the mission of Col Solare has been to unite these two unique viticultural and winemaking cultures to produce a world-class wines from Washington State’s very best vineyard sites. With the planting of the Col Solare estate vineyard on Red Mountain in 2007, the vision of the partners has evolved to focus on showcasing the Cabernet Sauvignon of this renowned appellation and, ultimately, the specific fruit of the estate vineyard and the Red Mountain designation. For more information on Col Solare, please visit www.colsolare.com.
About Erath Winery
Erath Winery, one of the pioneering wineries of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the region’s leading producer of Pinot Noir, has played a major role in establishing Oregon’s wine industry and cementing its reputation as a world-class wine region. Now in its fifth decade of winemaking, Erath crafts wines that showcase the distinct character of their diverse vineyard sites and the unique qualities of each vintage. For more information on Erath, please visit www.erath.com.
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 Winery, Columbia Crest, Intrinsic Wine Co., Erath Winery, 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.