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03.20.2014  
 

14 Hands Opens Winery in Prosser

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates renovates former Snoqualmie winery site for new winemaking facility and tasting room

 
by Paul Franson
 
 
“14
 
April 12 is the official grand opening for the new 14 Hands winery in Prosser, Wash.
Prosser, Wash.—Riding the surge in popularity of Washington state wines, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has converted its former Snoqualmie winery in Prosser into a production winery and tasting room for its hot 14 Hands wine brand.

“This is an important milestone for both 14 Hands and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, and one we are very proud of,” said Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. “Since its initial introduction in 2005, we have watched 14 Hands evolve into the fastest growing wine brand in the history of the Washington wine industry.”

The 14 Hands brand is among the top 10 premium wine brands in the U.S. It has grown into Washington’s third-largest label, producing 1.7 million cases per year, since it was introduced as an on-premise wine in 2005. (Washington state wineries produced 15.8 million cases in 2013, according to Wines Vines Analytics.)

Snoqualmie will move to the company’s large winery in Paterson, Wash., where winemaking will continue to be overseen by Joy Andersen. That winery also produces popular Columbia Crest wines.

To prosper in Prosser
The 14 Hands facility is welcome news to the area, which many are trying to develop into a wine destination. The Yakima Valley, including Prosser and the Tri-Cities area of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco about 20 miles away, contains many vineyards and wineries but few destination wine centers, though Red Mountain between the small centers is rapidly achieving that status.

“We are very proud of the location of the 14 Hands winery in Prosser, which is at the gateway to the Horse Heaven Hills appellation where our vineyards are located,” said Baseler. “As a company, we have been a part of the community for over four decades….The opening of the new 14 Hands winery and tasting room in Prosser, Wash., felt like a natural next step.”

Highlighting the environment
Ste. Michelle, Washington’s largest wine producer by far, conducted an extensive renovation to turn the winery into a destination along the town’s wine tourism corridor. The tasting room and winery are designed to highlight the history of Washington wines and the Horse Heaven Hills appellation. Reclaimed wood sourced from barns in the local region, displayed with the stories of the families who built them, celebrate family farmers who play a significant role in the area.

The tasting room and retail shop will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Complimentary wine tasting is available, and no appointments are necessary. The tasting room will officially open April 12.

A start in restaurants
14 Hands was introduced for sale in fine dining establishments only, but eventually it became a brand sold in stores due to consumer demand. It is now available nationally and exported to 24 countries.

Winemaker Keith Kenison produces a wide range of popular varieties priced at $10 and $12, including Moscato and red blends. In 2012, 14 Hands introduced “The Reserve” tier of wines at $30 from the Horse Heaven Hills appellation on a high plateau near the winery.

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Posted on 03.21.2014 - 11:27:59 PST
 
Getting the millions of 14 Hands consumers into a tasting room is brilliant. I'm interested in what Ste. Michelle is planning after they walk in the door.

The 14 Hands wines retail for $10 - $12. Does Ste. Michelle believe that the volume of visitors will compensate for the low price per bottle in making a profit? The tasting fee would have to be low given the target market. Or will the tasting room feature the $30 Horse Heaven wines after drawing in visitors with the 14 Hands name? Would it be perceived as a bait and switch by visitors expecting the wines they already know and love?

I'm interested in how the numbers run. I can see making money from a gift shop and food. Not so much a wine club. Can you have a wine club where the shipping charge to get the wine to the member is higher than the cost of the wine?

Is this tasting room a loss leader that gets Ste. Michelle access to consumers who might not be attracted to a more expensive brand? Or will volume drive profit?
 
Jean Yates
 
 
 
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