Woodinville won’t rezone Ste. Michelle Wine Estates for townhomes

Washington’s biggest winemaker, facing low sales, plans to redevelop half of 118-acre site

Woodinville Won’t Rezone Ste. Michelle Winery for Townhomes
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates' Shawn Conway with 14111 NE 145th Street in Woodinville, Washington (Google Maps, Ste. Michelle)

The Seattle suburb of Woodinville has turned down a request by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates to rezone nearly half of its 118-acre winery for homes.

The City Council denied a request by the state’s largest winemaker, owned by New York-based Sycamore Partners, to rezone 48.7 acres for up to 60 townhomes around its chateau at 14111 NE 145th Street, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported.

Ste. Michelle had sought to have the land rezoned from Tourist Industrial to Tourist Business, allowing denser residential development.

The winery plans to redevelop the estates with a boutique hotel, retail pavilion, food hall, dozens of townhomes, plus 90 single-family homes. Attractions such as the chateau and concert amphitheater would remain, as would some office and wine production.

Ste. Michelle had sought to rezone the northwest side for townhomes, near the chateau and arena. Current zoning allows for a hotel and additional shops.

It plans to build the 90 homes on more than 50 acres zoned to allow the development.

In 2021, Sycamore Partners bought Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, which owns Chateau Ste. Michelle, in a deal worth $1.2 billion. Founded in 1954, Chateau Ste. Michelle bills itself as the oldest winery in Washington State. 

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Ste. Michelle farms 30,000 acres across Washington, Oregon and California and sells its wines in more than 100 countries. Woodinville, known for its wine industry, has more than 130 wineries.

With declining wine sales, the winery listed the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates site in Woodinville in 2022 for an undisclosed price, according to the Business Journal. 

Jack McCullough, a partner at the law firm McCullough Hill who is representing Ste. Michelle, told the council that the property is no longer on the market. The wine company instead plans to partner with a developer to build out the property.

Some city residents had said the proposed townhomes belong in the city’s downtown, not its Hollywood District.

The company’s redevelopment plans come as Ste. Michelle goes through an extended leadership shake-up. The company has also cut jobs and scaled back on its wine production as the industry at large struggles to attract the next generation of wine drinkers, according to the Business Journal.

— Dana Bartholomew

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