Seattle-based Precept Wine has made headlines in the last few weeks with its purchase of Idaho’s largest winery, Ste. Chapelle, from the bankrupt Ascentia Wine Estates.
The deal adds another 150,000 nine-liter cases to the Precept portfolio, which should be just under a million cases by the end of 2012, according to company founder and CEO Andrew Browne.
Founded in 2003, Precept made the transition from being purely a sales and marketing firm, to a fully integrated wine producer. Their core business remains Washington wine, alongside a handful of offerings from Oregon, Germany and Australia. Idaho is also increasing becoming a focus for the brand. Precept was already present in Idaho with its Sawtooth brand ($10-$15), but the company has made a bigger bet on Idaho’s wine potential with Ste. Chapelle.
“After spending time on Sawtooth, we became very enthusiastic about Ste. Chapelle’s potential,” says Browne. “We’ve found that Idaho is great for both red and white wines. Our experience there hearkens back to what we saw in Washington. The evolution of winemaking we’ve seen in Washington state is now happening in Idaho.” said Browne
I can’t say I’ve ever tasted wine from Idaho, at least that I can remember. I would have thought that being so close to Washington and Oregon, the climate is probably fairly similar and therefore the wines might be close in taste profile.
In all honesty, it’s going to take a brand like Precept to get Idaho the recognition it deserves i.e. marketing. No doubt the few Idaho wineries that have been in existence since before Precept came into town, have felt like they’ve been slogging their guts out, putting their heart and soul into their business – but when Idaho is world-renowned for its potatoes rather than its wines – they’ve certainly been fighting an uphill battle to get recognized.
Precept should be greeted with open-arms by the Idaho winemakers, and now that the state has one of the “big boys” on their side (with good distribution), I would expect to see Idaho wines becoming more prevalent in the marketplace. I, for one, am intrigued to see what happens!