E&J Gallo Winery holds high hopes for Washington

  • Wednesday 6 June 2012

E&J Gallo has purchased the Columbia and Covey Run wineries in Washington State.

E&J Gallo company logo

Gallo's deal to buy the Columbia and Covey Run wineries from Ascentia Wine Estates for an undisclosed fee marks one of the first major forays into Washington by a large California winery.

The purchase hands Gallo two of Washington’s oldest wineries. Columbia, founded in 1962 as Associated Vintners, is best known for pioneering the production of Syrah and other varieties in Washington under winemaker David Lake MW.

Lake died in 2009, having retired in 2005, and Gallo is keen to continue his legacy. 'Our hope is to return Columbia to being recognised as a premier winery from the region as it was under the winemaking of David Lake,' said Roger Nabedian, senior vice president and general manager of Gallo's premium wine division.

He told Decanter.com that Gallo attempted to buy Columbia several years ago and that the firm has had its eye on the Pacific Northwest region for more than five years.

'It was all about finding the right opportunity at the right time,' said Nabedian. 'I think Washington State has something unique to offer versus our other wineries around the world.'

Gallo will install new winemaking teams at both Columbia and Covey Run in the coming weeks. Together, the two wineries produce around 300,000 cases annually. Covey was founded in 1982 and has so far focused on value priced offerings.

Washington is the second-largest winemaking state in the US, after California. It has more than 700 wineries.

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