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Guiding Figure of Washington Wine to Retire

Daniel Sogg, Harvey Steiman
Posted: June 29, 2000

Allen Shoup, president and CEO of Washington States Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates and one of the pillars of the modern Pacific Northwest wine industry, is retiring, effective July 1, 2001. Shoup will be replaced by 16-year Stimson Lane veteran Ted Baseler.

Stimson Lane has had a tumultuous week. The company announced on Monday that it quashed its plans to purchase Guenoc Winery in Californias Lake County for $100 million. Shoup, 56, had hoped to expand the companys California holdings, which already include Villa Mt. Eden and Conn Creek wineries in Napa, as well as the Associated Vintage Group winemaking facility in Hopland, Calif.

But U.S. Tobacco, the parent company of Stimson Lane, faces potential billion dollar legal liabilities due to its tobacco operations. "The parent company has enormous problems, and we know that we cant be the tail that wags the dog," said Shoup, 56.

"Its quite clear that weve been to the altar a few times [to buy additional California wineries]. We went down to the last day on Sonoma-Cutrer. We went down to the last day on Franciscan. There were others as well. And when youre my age, you realize how long it takes to start a winery from the ground up--which is the only alternative to buying one--and with the mandatory retirement age of 65 in this company, I would not be around to see it through. Its better to hand it to a younger man," he added.

In 1979, Shoup left Max Factor to join Stimson Lane. After five years as vice president of marketing and strategic planning, he became president. Hes guided the development of Stimson Lane brands Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle, while also leading efforts to improve the quality and reputation of Washingtons wines.

Shoup has been instrumental in promoting Washington wines, according to Robert Mondavi. "Very rarely do you find someone with the honesty and integrity of Allen Shoup," says Mondavi. "He's had the knowledge and know-how to explain and communicate. I know of no one who's done so much for the wines of a state. He's been a genius in that regard. There are many people with a vision, but few can execute their vision. He has."

During Shoups tenure, Stimson Lane has increased its revenue from $5 million to $175 million. Over the last few years, Shoup has also focused on the globalization of the international wine market, committing to joint ventures with Piero Antinori of Tuscany, Ernst Loosen of Germanys Mosel region, and Australias Petaluma Vineyards.

Shoup will spend his remaining year at Stimson working with Baseler to develop a 10-year plan for the company, and concentrating on the final details of their international projects.

Shoup has not yet decided what hell do after leaving Stimson. "Id love to have a vineyard, which I couldnt do before because of conflict of interest," he says. "I like philanthropy. I like art. I have a 13-year-old son who hasnt seen much of me in the past couple of years. Ive had friends ask me to run software companies. Ive always believed that the key to living is to expand your degree of options. Im trying to do that."

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Read more about Stimson Lane:

  • June 26, 2000
    Guenoc Sale to Stimson Lane Falls Through

  • Dec. 23, 1999
    Stimson Lane Expands Global Reach With Australian Venture

  • Sept. 15, 1999
    Top German Producer Teams Up With Chateau Ste. Michelle

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