Two weeks ago, in this Blog, I wrote about how Chateau Ste. Michelle became the biggest supplier of Washington Wine values. Here's the story of how Chateau Ste. Michelle got started and who was behind it. 

Up until 1967, the American Wine Growers company was a producer principally of fruit wines under the NAWICO and Pomerelle labels - cherry, plum, blackberry and other fruits. The only grape wine was Concord which is a native variety of the vitis labrusca family. But Vic Allison had a bigger vision. He contacted Andre Tchelistcheff of Beaulieu Vineyards to evaluate Washington wines. Tchelistcheff rejected the wines NAWICO offered and recommended that the winery should focus on Cabernet Sauvignon as a superior variety. This was the man behind Beaulieu Vineyards' Reserve de Georges Latour, the iconic 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the winery's estate vineyards in the Napa Valley. In the 1960s, American Wine Growers started planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay under the company's development manager, Vic Allison.

I remember in the early 1970's that Vic Allison would come to Esquin Wine Merchants, which I owned at the time, and buy Bordeaux wine to compare with Ste. Michelle Vintners' Cabernets. I found him to be friendly and amiable. The inaugural vintage was 1967, released in 1970. The Ste. Michelle name came about as Vic Allison had a daughter who visited Mont St. Michel in Normandy and thought that was a great name, ands it was adapted in a feminine gender. In 1974 the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery and visitor center was built and the name was changed to its current form. In overseeing these developments, Vic Allison left a remarkable legacy.