Washington Winemaker Ross Andrew Mickel Dies at 47

The young vintner, who went from sommelier to boutique winery owner, was lost in a seaplane crash near Seattle

Washington Winemaker Ross Andrew Mickel Dies at 47
Ross Andrew Mickel was known for his love of great wine, exploring through travel and trying to offer high quality at good value.
Sep 9, 2022

Washington state’s wine community is grappling with the loss of respected winemaker Ross Andrew Mickel. The 47-year-old, along with his wife and young son, were among 10 people who were lost Sept. 4 when a seaplane crashed near Whidbey Island in Washington state’s Puget Sound, just north of Seattle. The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the missing plane on Sept. 5; all the passengers are missing and presumed dead.

Mickel’s wine career began in the restaurant industry, where he was a sommelier at Canlis, a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner in Seattle, beginning in 1996. There he studied wine under Master Sommelier Rob Bigelow. Mickel then began traveling to different wine regions in Australia, South America, Europe and South Africa. He landed a harvest internship at the well-known Washington winery DeLille Cellars in the fall of 1997, and went on to spend that winter working a harvest in Australia’s McLaren Vale appellation.

Around that time, Mickel met acclaimed Washington winemaker Bob Betz and began working at Betz Family Winery in 1998. Under Betz’s guidance, Mickel established the Ross Andrew Winery in 1999, making wine under his own name for the first time.

“Ross was one of those young stars who had a lot more to give,” Betz told Wine Spectator. “He had passion, inquisitiveness and a real love for his craft. He traveled, he visited wine regions. This summer he spent time in Tuscany visiting wineries. He brought his understanding of other wine regions back to Washington.”

The Ross Andrew Winery is based in Washington’s Woodinville wine region and focuses primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Mickel put an emphasis on reasonably affordable wines, with many of his releases costing $30 or less. Wines from recent vintages have earned outstanding scores on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale. Mickel was also well known as a winemaker for Force Majeure, then known as Grand Réve.

Mickel was close friends with winemaker Mark Ryan McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery, and they would travel together frequently. “The outpouring of support and condolences from the Washington wine industry as well as local restaurant and retail shops has been overwhelming,” McNeilly told Wine Spectator. “I am currently working with his family and his surviving daughter Lila to continue the Ross Andrew Winery brand.”

Mickel will be remembered for striving for quality paired with affordability. As he wrote on his winery’s website, “Too many people try to make wine into much more than it is and it ends up coming across as an intimidating and elitist pursuit. Our goal is to go in the other direction: keep it simple and make it fun.”

News Obituaries Washington

You Might Also Like

Unidentified Firm Buys Napa's Seven Stones Winery for $34 Million

Unidentified Firm Buys Napa's Seven Stones Winery for $34 Million

The boutique wine brand was purchased by a holding company registered to an executive of a …

Dec 7, 2022
Turning Tables: City Winery Comes to New York’s Grand Central Terminal

Turning Tables: City Winery Comes to New York’s Grand Central Terminal

For its fifth New York location, the restaurant–urban winery group has taken up residence …

Dec 1, 2022
Tony Parker Doubles Down in Southern France

Tony Parker Doubles Down in Southern France

The NBA star's newly purchased Rhône wine estate, Château St.-Laurent near Avignon, will …

Nov 30, 2022
Burgundy's Hospices de Beaune Charity Auction Hits a $32 Million Record

Burgundy's Hospices de Beaune Charity Auction Hits a $32 Million Record

Thanks to enthusiasm over the 2022 vintage, 802 barrels of Burgundy raised the event’s …

Nov 29, 2022
‘Straight Talk’ Podcast Episode 3 Spotlights Champagne for the Holidays

‘Straight Talk’ Podcast Episode 3 Spotlights Champagne for the Holidays

James Molesworth and Alison Napjus chat with Roederer's Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon and grower …

Nov 29, 2022
Antinori's Piedmont Estate Prunotto Buys Vineyards in Serralunga d'Alba

Antinori's Piedmont Estate Prunotto Buys Vineyards in Serralunga d'Alba

The Italian wine company expands its Barolo presence with 8.4 acres in Cerretta

Nov 28, 2022