Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, Washington. Copyright Richard Duval.

On January 16th, the Woodinville City Council denied a request by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (SMWE), the parent company of Chateau Ste. Michelle, to consolidate rezoning portions of its property into the city’s comprehensive plan. The rezoning would allow residential townhouse development in certain areas of the property.

“I don’t want to see it bundled in with a whole bunch of other comprehensive updates,” said councilmember Michelle Evans.

A representative from SWME told Northwest Wine Report via email this week that the company would press on exploring possibilities for its property.

“It is our intent to continue operating our tasting room and beloved concert series, as was demonstrated by our presentation to the Woodinville City Council,” said Lynda Eller, SMWE senior director of communications and corporate affairs. “We continue to explore exciting possibilities on how best to use our expansive property with the goal of actually enhancing guest experiences to make Chateau Ste. Michelle an even greater destination for the local community and visitors alike.”

Why does SMWE want to rezone its property?

Jack McCullough, an attorney representing SMWE at the January 16th meeting, said SMWE has three goals. The first is to keep the existing buildings on its Chateau Ste. Michelle property. The second is to keep the existing uses, including the tasting room and concert venue. The third is to support existing uses by making the property sustainable for the long-term.

It is the third goal that is at issue. SMWE moved Chateau Ste. Michelle’s white wine production from Woodinville to eastern Washington in 2022. As a result, a sizable portion of its property is no longer being used.

In presenting SMWE’s plan to redevelop the property, McCullough said the company is considering a 140-room hotel and “pedestrian-oriented, open-air retail.” Residential development would likely occur on the portion of the property zoned for it. However, the company has concerns.

“The amount of retail here in this option may exceed what the market can support,” McCullough said.

To address that, SMWE was seeking to rezone 48.7 acres. This would allow “up to” 60 townhouses to be developed. It would also realize a considerable amount of money.

What comes next for rezoning?

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