The Seattle Times
July 8, 2017

Behind the scenes at Washington’s founding winery.

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington’s founding winery and still a pioneer in creating innovative wines. Here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how that sumptuous chardonnay in your glass got there – complete with fun facts from the winemakers and vineyard managers.

The growing season

Viticulture, the science of growing grapes, covers everything from planting, to fertilization, to managing the vines, to harvesting the grapes. “The decisions we make are based in applied science, but predictability is difficult,” says Joe Cotta, Cold Creek Vineyard manager. “I have a database of successful practices from previous years – as well as the resulting acidity, sugar levels, berry chemistry and subsequent wine-quality scores – but the vines are always evolving and the weather is never the same. Even if we do the same things during each growing season, the results will be different.”

The amount of sun, water and manipulation to the vines directly influences the flavors created in the grapes during the growing season. The interactions of fruit location on the vine, vine water stress, light infiltration and the maturity of the fruit at harvest time all have great influence on the wine quality. “The challenge and art of viticulture is in manipulating the soil and vines to take the best advantage of whatever environmental conditions are present,” says Kari Smasne, Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard manager.

The harvest

September through October is an exciting and celebratory time of year, when the grapes are finally ready for picking>>>Read the entire article on The Seattle Times