California's Chalone Wine Group has created a new Washington wine brand, made at the former Staton Hills Vineyard & Winery in the Yakima Valley. Sagelands Winery will focus exclusively on red wines, and its first releases -- a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon -- will be in stores this spring.
Chalone purchased the 60,000-case Staton Hills property last June, making it the eighth estate in the company's portfolio, which also includes Acacia, Carmenet and Edna Valley in California and Canoe Ridge in Washington. Staton Hills primarily made Cabernet and Merlot, with some Chardonnay and Fumi Blanc.
Included in the purchase were 11 acres of estate vineyards and 90 acres of vineyards under long-term contract. "With the creation of Sagelands Winery, we have contracted for grapes and new vineyard plantings in those areas that seem to be best suited for producing concentrated, rich red wines," said Kevin Mott, winemaker and general manager of Sagelands.
Sagelands' first releases, which will retail for about $15 a bottle, will be 4,600 cases of 1997 Merlot and 13,000 cases of 1998 Cabernet. The Staton Hills brand will remain as a secondary label.
Chalone redubbed the winery because it had been named after the former owner. "We chose the name because sage is associated with food and wine," said Liz Dueland, Chalone's director of public relations. "There is also an association to the local area and its cultural history." Descendants of a local Indian tribe known as the "Sagebrush People" still live in the Yakima Valley.
Read past news on changes at Chalone: