Chalone Wine Group is spending $7.7 million dollars to take total ownership of Washington's Canoe Ridge Vineyard and to expand the Columbia Valleybased winery's production.
Napa Valleybased Chalone Wine Group -- whose portfolio includes Acacia, Carmenet, Chalone, Echelon and Edna Valley vineyards, all in California -- has owned 50.5 percent of Canoe Ridge since 1990, but decided to buy out the group of Washington investors who controlled the other 49.5 percent. Chalone purchased the remaining shares for $4 million and assumed the minority partners' $2 million debt.
Chalone will also spend $1.7 million on a new 19,000-square-foot winery, which should be ready for the 2001 harvest and will be able to produce 40,000 cases a year. Currently, Canoe Ridge produces about 27,000 cases annually -- mainly estate Merlot, as well as some Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay -- from its 160 acres of vineyards.
"We put some money in Napa Valley last year, so this year, I think the feeling was that there is a great future in Washington," said Ken Morris, director of communications for Chalone Wine Group. "It certainly costs less [than Napa], and we already had a presence there, so why not improve upon it?"
Last year, Chalone expanded by buying several properties in Napa Valley: Jade Mountain Winery, in March, and the 160-acre Suscol Creek Vineyard and 57-acre Hewitt Vineyard, in February. The company also debuted a new Washington red-wine brand called Sagelands, which is made at the former Staton Hills Vineyard & Winery, in Yakima Valley.
Learn more about Chalone's recent growth: