Allen Shoup on the maturation of the Washington wine industry
Nobody understands Washington wines better than Allen Shoup. As long-time CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle—Washington’s founding modern winery—Allen brought international winemaking partnerships and market attention to the state’s wines, and helped foster an environment of wine entrepreneurship. Allen continues his leadership and innovation at Long Shadows, a unique group of small wineries that brings preeminent global winemakers to Washington to make Washington wine.
Without a doubt the single most important factor that spurred the successful growth of this industry over the last 25 years is the continued development and improvement of the vineyards. Better site selection, greater age and diversity of vines and clones, new technologies, and the extremely dedicated commitment of many new growers to grape growing excellence, all combined to allow both the oldest and newest wineries excel in their efforts to make world-class wine.
We knew 25 years ago that we could make good wines in Washington if we could develop profitable ways to grow the grapes … but nobody knew that the ability to make consistent good wines was going to transcend into the ability to make consistent great wines. We like to give credit where it is due, but in this case the credit goes mostly to Mother Nature who blesses us with her bounty … then as now, and in the future we have to try and not get greedy but protect this blessing by redoubling our efforts to improve both our grape growing and wine making practices … for we are not alone in the world of fine winemaking and all the others out there have been here longer and in most instances have deeper pockets and broader consumer support … we cannot rest or slow down. But I am heartened as both growers and vintners in Washington are a group uniquely dedicated to improving our wines vintage after vintage.
Hear other Northwest wine pioneers speak to the Pacific Northwest wine region:
From the March/April 2012 issue of Northwest Palate.